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Monday, August 23, 2010

Where Have All The Gurus Gone?

There was a time when getting a real estate license was a formal affair where you would go to licensing school, participate in a classroom setting, took a series of exams, studied -- really studied, then prepared for the dreaded state exam, with all the horror stories of how hard it was to pass it!

And yet, looking back at this from where we are today, facing the inordinate challenges brought on by calamitous lending practices of late, and the mounting foreclosures, pondering the question "...is it time to get a 9 to 5 job?" because the business isn't working the way it is supposed to, we put things in a different perspective.

Some even consider doing something more creative like getting a coach, mentor, or guru to beat them over the head with, "do this," "do that," "do it this way," "don't do it that way," "buy this special high intensity training," etc.
I thought Mike F., Floyd W., Roger B., Joe S., or even Tom H. had strategies to make this business simple, fun and easy (or even "exciting"). Well, if that is the case, what happened? Where have all the gurus and their instantaneous success strategies gone? Obviously, it isn't working if...

1. Agents are leaving the business
2. Licensees are resorting to work two jobs just to make ends meet
3. Dreamers keep thinking this is just a phase and the sun will come out
tomorrow (without doing much to change anything)
4. Folks are looking for an economic cushion while they figure out a better way to do this business, and
5. Some are venturing into enterprises such as, multi-level marketing

Where have all the gurus gone? What happened to the promises of "million dollar" production?

Someone out there is making money on the downside -- it is a given. I just finished re-reading a book by Robert G. Hagstrom, Jr. ("The Warren Buffett Way") on, whom else, Warren Buffet, you know, the billionaire investment "Sage of Omaha".

Well, he says that the shrewd investor invests in the down cycle, and avoids economic indicators, forecasters, so-called experts, analysts, and the likes. Hmm, doesn't that sound like he's saying, he avoids the gurus?

So what makes him so successful (and rich, the richest man on the planet by some accounts)? How does he do it? For starters, he isn't selling real estate! Moreover, he's buying. But what exactly does he buy?

In addition to real estate, which he buys indirectly (when he buys majority stakes -- stocks -- of companies, e.g., Washington Post, Coca Cola, Time-Warner, Sees Candies, etc.), he's buying IT -- the company, the people, the brand, the real estate, etc.

Warren Buffett buys what he, himself, through careful and methodical analysis, determines is the appreciable and potential value of under valued, under performing companies (in spite of the analysts advice to the contrary), and he succeeds because of this.

Now if we are to take this as a basis for someone whose advice we might want to follow, what lessons can we extract from this advice? Might we consider Warren Buffett a good guru to follow in our real estate endeavors? Let's see.

· Is he rich? Yes.
· Does he know how to make money? Yes.
· Is he happy? (By his own account), Yes.
· Does he know what he's doing? Yes.

And believe it or not, in spite of his enormous success he admits to making mistakes along the way. Imagine that!

Well-meaning as many of the real estate gurus may appear to be, too many of them are only in it for the money! There's nothing wrong with that. Who of us wouldn't want to have a successful business that thrives on someone buying what we're selling (even if what we're selling is "common sense")? Imagine if you could package (and sell) this:

1. Teaching sales scripts
2. Reminding people to practice drill and rehearse sales strategies
3. Extolling the benefits of knocking on doors daily
4. Detailing how to create a simplistic business plan
5. Showing how others create marketing pieces to copy from
6. Reminding people to specialize in a given market
7. Promoting the work by referral principle
8. Selling sales tapes/CDs., etc.

Sound familiar? How many of us haven't bought that bit of that common sense? I know I have participated in dozens of such nonsensical presentations by well-intentioned presenters who might have sold something at some time but now devote their livelihood to selling Realtors “common sense”.

So what, if anything can we take from this? Simply put, yes, it is important to learn from someone who knows more than we do. However, it isn't necessary to pay $2,000 or more (per event), as a couple of these gurus charge only to get common sense or some pseudo "coaching" designed to get you thinking or working effectively.

If you're smart, and obviously you have to be in order to have gotten your license, or explore the possibilities, then you're also smart enough to know how to find useful information through the many forums available (including this one). Heck, if you're even applying a little common sense, you'll save some money and pick up training materials or books or tapes or whatever from your public library or from the REALTORS resources -- FREE!

I for one am not downplaying the importance of education or training. However, I don't believe that many trainer's good intentions are worth as much as some of them want to charge, and believe me, some of them know how much the top agents make (millions?) and therefore figure, I want a little of that too!

Wherever the gurus are, God Bless them. For the rest of us, let's get practical -- we're all business people, let's make our business work with an effective plan, with a consistent work ethic, with a positive approach, with a good crew, and with the end in mind.

Along the way, if we do want to visit a guru, let's go to the library and check out their book first before making an investment.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Loqqad | Estamos para servirle -- aqui o all (en los EEUU, San Francisco, CA para ser exactos)

Loqqad | Estamos para servirle -- aqui o all (en los EEUU, San Francisco, CA para ser exactos)

Speculations on speculator suppression | first tuesday journal online

Speculations on speculator suppression | first tuesday journal online

Latinos Were The Hardest Hit in the Real Estate Meltdown.

Recently there has been a bevy of reports about the continuing real estate and mortgage crisis. Many may conclude that the word “crisis” probably no longer applies, especially because of the rescue programs the government instituted to shore up the economy. But wait a minute, one thing rescuing the economy through aid to “Wall Street” – helping the largest banks, e.g., Bank of America, Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan, Chase, etc., it is quite another to impact “Main Street,” where you and I live, more so, if English, if it is spoken at all, is spoken as a second language, creating the breeding grounds for the resulting abuses against Latinos.

Latinos in California, represent about 36 percent of the population, and for the period between 2004 and 2008, at the height of the real estate buying frenzy, received nearly 30 percent of the originated ("higher-rate") home loans. However, Latinos also fell victim to foreclosures at a higher rate than most – nearly 47 percent of these households faced foreclosure!

According to a report from the Centers for Responsible Lending, 48.2 percent of the total homes in foreclosure in California from 2006 to 2009 were of Latino homeowners, and nearly 35 percent of these were concentrated in the state's Central Valley, the area between Sacramento and San Joaquin counties.

Obviously, there is a big problem here, and one that has no quick solution. The wave of foreclosures is forecasted to continue, and alas, with these findings confirming the inequities of the way houses were sold and the alarming concentration of the abuses of any one segment of the population, it is paramount that meaningful change take place to prevent a recurrence of such abuses.

Dealing with these ongoing trends in real estate, it is important to help Latinos understand where they stand, if they are to get out of their immediate predicament in the best fashion, particularly because they continue to be victimized only now through mortgage rescue schemes. It is important that anyone who wants to buy a house be better informed and, perhaps, required to take some primer on the way houses are bought and loans underwritten – in their native tongue, if need be, to avoid a recurrence of both the conditions leading to these types of events or facilitate such abuses.

Likewise, the real estate professional must be more than just a salesperson to an unsuspecting customer, s/he should be an advocate of fair dealings to all buyers, regardless of their heritage or surname, in this way, we all will benefit and find that the repeat and referral business we'll derive from doing so will be of a happier sort instead of the sorry one that foreclosure represents for all.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The not so merry merry-go-round of real estate.

I was chatting with a would-be buyer for about the 200th time about the "why" or the "how come" of this or that, mostly having to do with the inordinate delays we've experienced with a "standard" home purchase. You see, his brother told him he could buy a house relatively simply two years after he declared bankruptcy, but of course, he didn't tell him all the hoops he'd have to jump through to get the right financing.

Well, as luck might have it, this last discussion lead to his throwing up his arms and saying, enough is enough. "I want to cancel the deal!" And so it went, another eight months worth of showing, driving up and down the area, making at least 25 bids on as many houses and working with several lenders to make this happen. In the end, what did I have to show for it? Absolutely nothing!


The most frustrating part, if we're looking at the financial side, is that it wound up costing quite a bit when you factor time and gas, and tolls and all the other sundry things that go into making the typical real estate deal happen these days.

Regrets, if any, are the challenges that we have to overcome on your average transaction these days. You see, the last escrow I had with these folks, and there were a total of four all together over that period of time, was going as well as might be expected with a "short sale", but when the FHA appraiser came to do their appraisal, they wound up doing a home inspection on top of that! When did appraisers become inspectors, I asked, and the curt answer was, that FHA required them to note anything that the house exhibited that was a health and safety issue. Of course, that makes perfect sense, but tell it to a buyer who now blames you for the five month delay, the extra fees it cost him for the appraisal, the loss of time off work to go and come, and on, and on...


You can see what I mean when I say, the not so merry merry-go-round of real estate. Oh, there's another call, "... you say you want to buy a house? and that you're a first time buyer? and that you have little or not money? and that you want the best..." Oh well, until we figure out how to sell without the real people, don't expect that you get paid for anything other than solving peoples housing problems -- right?

Go out and make it a great day, oh, and remember to smile!