StepStone Realty is the Brokerage-Home for the Creative Real Estate Investor. But most people, even real estate agents, are not clear on what it means to be a creative real estate investor. What is creative real estate investing?

Quite simply, it’s any type of real estate transaction that doesn’t follow one of your traditional models. Traditionally, people have two options if they want to make money in real estate; either get a license and represent buyers and sellers or use a realtor to help you purchase property (that’s been listed on the MLS) and hold that property (typically as a rental) until it appreciates.

Continue reading “What Makes an Investment “Creative”?”

It seems every day we are bombarded with competing information about the state of the housing market. Just this week we learned that the economy gained back a large portion of the GDP lost during the spring COVID-19 shut-downs.

Housing sales are back up, with a summer/fall sales increase replacing what normally occurs in the spring, and demand continues to press against low-inventory driving up home pricing.

On the flip side, distress for many homeowners is looming. As the Mortgage Bankers Association has reported, 90 day delinquency rates are at their highest level since the third quarter of 2010. And as reported by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), 10 large metropolitan areas (3 of which are in Texas!) are in serious risk of major FHA defaults with current 90 day delinquency rates exceeding 15%.

Continue reading “What Distress?”

After hundreds of meetings with sellers, I find the best way to negotiate is to not ever negotiate. It’s a mindset change that drastically increased my level of success with homeowners, not only in purchasing their property, but also in helping to forge listing agreements as well.

It all starts with the recognition that we are not in the business of real estate. We are instead, problem solvers. Therefore, I’m not looking for a particular property, but rather opportunities to solve homeowner’s problems.

Continue reading “Best Way to Negotiate on a House? Don’t!”

With the current economic climate, we are likely to soon see a prolonged period of “subject to” (Sub2) opportunities and owner-financed wraps. Not familiar with these concepts? Take my classes on these... they are vital concepts for making money!

So how do you know when a Sub2 deal is a “good deal”? There are really only two key concepts to look at. First is one you are already pretty familiar with: equity. If the amount of equity alone makes the deal a good one, then it’s a good deal. Remember, “Sub2” is merely a financing mechanism.

Continue reading “Is this Sub2 Deal a Good One?”

I hear way too many Realtors and investors tell me they missed out on a deal because the homeowner was “too close to foreclosure”. This is never the case! If you find a homeowner and need to delay the foreclosure so you can close the deal, you have options!

Option 1: Bankruptcy

While this will be a “credit hit” to the seller, bankruptcy is an option they can take to delay the auction. The good news is this can be done right up to the morning of the auction and can be done for free! The sellers do not need an attorney, however, you can not act as one and help them if you are not an attorney. But they should know that they can call the local Federal Bankruptcy Court and a Court Clerk will be more than happy to let them know which documents they need to download and file in order to prevent the foreclosure. This is known as the “emergency bankruptcy kit”. If they ask the Clerk for that, they will get what they need.

Continue reading “Foreclosure Prevention”

I give a lot of classes, including continuing education credit classes for Realtors, on the topic of “Sub2” — the practice of purchasing a home through the transfer of deed without paying off the existing liens. This is a way to assume someone’s payments without having to qualify with the lender and without taking the note out of the seller’s name. Attend a CE Class for more information!

One of the first reactions is that this must be illegal! Or the banks “don’t allow” that.

The truth is, it is perfectly legal and the lender cannot prohibit you from transferring your deed to whoever you want! More importantly, they cannot prohibit you from purchasing property “subject to” the existing lien.

Continue reading “Should I Be Afraid of the “Due on Sale” Clause?”

We like to think of the value of our house as whatever it would appraise for, comp for, or sell for on the open market. That’s never an exact number, but definitely a number that falls into a very small circle of values. We’ll call that value the “Appraised Value.”

That value, however, has a few assumptions built in. It assumes that the seller has a house that can be marketed to the world (put on the MLS) for an extended period of time and that buyers can finance the home in any way typically available to them (Cash, Conventional, FHA, VA, etc.).

In other words, the Appraised Value assumes the homeowner has the luxury of time and the house is both marketable and “loanable”.

Continue reading “What is a House Worth?”

As the broker for over 235 Realtors/Investors, I hear about it when an agent thinks they are about to lose their commissions. I take these concerns seriously and advocate for my agents and their rightfully earned fees. However, there are some things you can do to help avoid someone trying to skirt their contractual obligation to you and some things you can do to make sure your Broker is better equipped to fight for that recovery.

First, show your value to your client. When a client sees and hears what you are doing for them it is a lot more difficult for them to justify, in their minds, that you don’t deserve the commission they agreed to pay. You can start immediately at the first meeting and explain to them some of the services you provide & their value:

  1. MLS market statistics that are only available to licensed Realtors and not cheaply!
  2. Knowledge of sales process and required disclosures…they could find themselves in hot water if they fail to perform actions by a certain date or neglect to provide required disclosures.
  3. Ability to reach the broadest audience of buyers via MLS listing and syndication.
  4. Security. Someone to watch out for their best interests and removing the risk of attracting someone with bad intentions with a FSBO sign.
  5. If you are a StepStone agent, then the added network and knowledge of how creative and/or investor offers work.

Second, make sure the client understands their rights and responsibilities.

  1. Explain the commission rate, what an “exclusive right to sell” is and make sure they understand you get paid even if they find a buyer themselves.
  2. Educate them on what to do should a buyer, other agent or other party attempts to contact or negotiate with them directly. Ensure they know to direct EVERYTHING through you and they should never sign anything outside of your direction.
  3. Let them know that if they have concerns with your representation that they should bring it up sooner than later.  Make sure they understand that claiming you didn’t do your job as a reason to not pay you after they have signed a contract will not hold water and you will pursue a commission.

Next, do your job right. Nothing is more frustrating to me when trying to secure an agents commission when I discover they made an error in their paperwork. Don’t get sloppy, ever. If you do, it’s Murphy’s Law that that’s the one that will come to haunt you later.

  1. Properly execute a representation agreement. Make sure it’s signed and dated by both parties with all blanks filled in.
  2. Uphold the requirements placed on you in the rep agreement. Don’t delay in listing on the MLS unless the agreement says otherwise. If it says otherwise, make sure you stay on that date or amend if necessary.
  3. Provide an Information About Brokerage Services and have signed.  Don’t forget to get one from the other party to the contract if they are not represented.  
  4. Get amendments signed. Don’t just make changes based on a verbal or email correspondence.
  5. Stay engaged. Don’t let them have the excuse that you didn’t do anything. Even if there is nothing to be done still reach out to the client with updates.

If you’ve got yourself a slippery fish and think that your client is trying to side step their obligation to pay a commission, take these steps.

  1. Reach out to your Broker right away.
  2. Advise any and all parties you are aware of that you have a listing agreement.
  3. Consider recording a Memorandum of Listing Contract with the County. (Consult with your broker, first! There could be legal ramifications for this action).

If you are a StepStone Agent, then know that I have your back and will fight for you! Follow this advice and I’ll have a much stronger case to make when the time comes!

If you search the internet for “Should I get a real estate license if I’m an investor?” and you will find a whole host of lists of reasons NOT to get your license.

I find that most of those lists, though, tend to be based on rumor and “conventional wisdom” rather than facts or grounded in the law.

So here is my Top 5 Reasons an Investor SHOULD get a real estate license!

#1 Monetize More Leads

Leads are not cheap. And let’s face it, not every seller we meet is ready to make a deal that makes sense from an investor-perspective. But when you have a license, you can also revert to listing the property when investing doesn’t make sense!

Continue reading “Top 5 Reasons Investors SHOULD be Licensed”