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Looking for Deals? Stop Whining and Get Back to Basics!

Currently, we tend to rely on technology, a great deal. We rely on it in our personal and business lives, and it dictates much of how we live our lives nowadays. The problem is that when it comes to business we are dealing with people. The fact is that people haven’t really changed all that much in the past few hundred or even thousand years.

We all experience emotions such as happiness, sadness, disappointment, fear and so on. Technology has improved but we’re all still kind of the original version of humanity. Technology may vastly improve our lives but at some point, we must deal with human beings face-to-face, especially in our business lives. That’s where we must go back to the “old school” so to speak. When dealing with a person or persons that are experiencing a problem and need a solution, technology may get us a meeting with them face-to-face, but it’s not going to close the deal.

We must remember is that we are in the problem-solving business. A lot of times the seller is not looking for top dollar, they are just looking for a quick way out of their problem and selling their home can, in many cases, solve that problem.

What are some of the problems of sellers encounter that may necessitate them selling a property quickly? Here are a few instances:

  • Financial issues/Foreclosure
  • Illness
  • Drug or alcohol problems
  • Job transfer
  • Legal issues
  • And lots more…

These are just a few of the problems that people encounter daily and you might be able to provide a solution and a win-win situation for all parties concerned. Much of the time a seller ignores their problem because they are unsure how to deal with it. It’s important to understand that most of these problems are solvable but your seller is hopefully motivated enough to look at your solution(s) and understand that it might just be a way out! In many cases, the seller may not even be aware that you have a solution until you contact them and get their attention.

The use of new technology to establish and narrow down an area to invest in and to come up with certain types of seller problems is a great way to get started. However, after that, the basic techniques we have used for years and years will kick in. Here are a few “old-school” techniques that still work well even in this day and age to help you strike a deal:

Driving for Dollars. Once you’ve narrowed down a couple of potential investment areas, it’s best to get a look at the area firsthand. Google Maps is great but there is nothing like driving an area, walking around a little bit, and even chatting with some of the residents, to get a true feel for that neighborhood. Here are a few things to look for as you drive:

  • Distressed properties. (either occupied or vacant)
  • Vacant or abandoned properties.
  • FSBOs also are known as For Sale by Owner.
  • For Rent properties.
  • For Rent or Sale (these are usually the best because they indicate a landlord who wants to eventually sell the property and may need the money to make their mortgage payment by getting a tenant in place until they can sell)
  • Talk to neighbors; they can give you an idea of who may be thinking of selling in their area.
  • Talking to folks that spend a lot of time in the neighborhood such as the mailman and other delivery persons can yield undiscovered secrets!

If you can’t find the owner or resident of the property, then normally you can look up who is the owner of record on the county assessor site. This should give you some sort of contact information where you can reach out to the owner or owners to see if they are interested in selling. We also leave a little sticky note on their front door that says, “Please call me about your property” along with your first name and phone number. Don’t get specific. Your goal is to get them to be curious enough to call you.

Call or Contact Related Businesses. Talking to related businesses that work in your investment area can be a possible gold mine! Businesses such as contractors, painters, delivery people, process servers, some attorneys; all of these can give you some insight into the neighborhood and possibly connected to a possible deal.

A good friend of ours who has been extremely successful rehabbing properties of the past 10 years got her start by buying a box of donuts every morning and then going to some of the local paint, flooring and home repair stores and asking the professionals that shop there if they knew of any possible homes that she might be able to buy and fix up. She got a lot of leads and in the process got to know a lot of people that she still uses her business to help her rehab houses!

Door Knocking. Knocking on doors can be quite effective as most investors are unwilling and are afraid to do it. There is nothing better than building rapport and trust with a person face-to-face. Use technology to familiarize yourself with the details of your potential neighborhoods and sellers’ situations and then knock on some doors. You might be surprised at the results. The best thing is that you normally don’t have any competition.

Targeted Mailings. Mailings can be a great way to get your message out about your ability to solve a problem for a seller in need. This is where old technology and new technology meet. Many times, you can obtain a list from a local title company or a commercial list provider. You can narrow the list down, so they’re targeted by location, property type, seller problem (such as foreclosure) and so much more. Sellers tend to respond best to letters that appear to be handwritten.

As far as mailings, there are several mailing services that can mail letters that appear to be handwritten and can even mail-merge them to really “personalize” the letter with seller’s names, property address and more. There are a dozen or more companies that do this but a particular favorite of our has been www.yellowletterscomplete.com. They can even provide lists for you, but they tend to be a bit more expensive than lists you can obtain from a title company or even a commercial list provider. Using one of these mailing services can save you a lot of time.

A few of the potential lists that one can obtain are:

  • expired listings
  • foreclosures
  • 30, 60, 90 days late on mortgage payments
  • code violations
  • recent evictions
  • vacant properties
  • non-owner-occupied properties. (These tend to be a favorite of ours because it usually indicates that this property is in most cases, a rental.)

Please note that not all list provider companies sell every one of these. Sometimes you must go to a specific company for a specific type of list such as the mortgage late payment list.

Bandit signs. Although not used as much is in the past, especially in the larger cities, the bandit sign can be a great way to obtain leads. These are the signs you see posted around at various intersections that say something like, “We Buy Houses” or something of the sort. If you are going to use a bandit sign campaign, make sure that you follow the local code enforcement rules and regulations. Sometimes they are illegal. Other times you can set them out on Friday and pick them up by Sunday night or Monday morning. Each area is different.

Networking. If you are a newer investor you probably are doing a lot of networking. This is something we tend to get away from as we gain experience and years in the business. Networking can be one of the best sources of leads for you! Attending meetings of your local real estate investing organization, title company and real estate company classes can be a great way to learn more and meet new people. Make sure you have great business cards and hand them out frequently.

Referrals. The best lead is a referred lead. If someone refers us to another person our chances of being able to strike a deal with that person are exponentially increased as trust and rapport and credibility with the referring person are already in place. It takes a long time to build a business that most of their leads from referrals. Even then you will still rely on other types of marketing to help fill in the gaps.

So, there you have it. The use of new technology combined with techniques that are tried and true can be a secret to your real estate success. Remember, people are still people and that hasn’t really changed much in a long time. We still experience problems and all those deep-set emotions that go along with being human. Your best chance of success is getting out in front of these motivated sellers, face to face, building rapport and building their trust. New technology can get you started, but it’s the basics that will take you to the finish.


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About the Author Frank Pulley and William Bronchick

Attorney William ("Bill") Bronchick, host of Legalwiz.com, has authored six best-selling books and is sought nationwide for his 25+ years of real estate and legal knowledge. He has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, such as CNBC, TIME Magazine, USA Today, Investor Business Daily, Forbes, and the LA Times, to name a few. William Bronchick is the co-founder and past President of the Colorado Association of Real Estate Investors and the Executive Director and founder of the College of American Real Estate Investors. Click on the "About" link above for more information on William Bronchick. Frank Pulley is an experienced real estate investor and foreclosure specialist. He is the director of William Bronchick's Coaching and Mentoring Programs. For more info, contact fpulley@bronchick.com.

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