Friday, January 30, 2009

Everybody's a Real Estate Pro

I woke up the other morning, unusually early, and flipped on the TV to check the weather. A show was on with gorgeous folks sitting in front of a dock full of big houseboats and yachts. Excitedly, each one explained how they'd made thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of dollars, with no money down on real estate deals. Of course, I watched. I'm in real estate. I want to know how to make 150K in an hour. 'Cause right now I'm not.

Well, here you go. You buy distressed properties for, oh, say $5000. You turn around and sell them for $155,000. You just made $150,000!!!! See? You are rich!!!

So...what am I missing here?

Oh, yeah, the part about the $5000 property. There's no such thing!! Ha! Ha! Gotcha!!!

Seriously, there are distressed properties and they are cheap. But the hoops you have to jump through to buy these properties are many. Then there is the rehab you'll have to do on the house. There's no disclosure, so you have no idea what could be wrong. And what could be wrong is alot. But the truth is, there is no $5000 property that you can turn around immediately and sell for more than, oh, maybe, $5005.

What the host of the show is good at is marketing all right. Marketing his book. See, he wants to share this wonderful knowledge with all of us poor folks and make us all rich. Right. He wants to sell a book or hundred, that's what he wants to do.

In the meantime, ordinary folks who watch these kinds of infomercials, figure that if a foreclosure is listed at, say, for example, $150,000, the bank will just be all over an offer of $60,000. Really. True enough, the banks and lenders do not want to be in the real estate business. They have no desire to maintain an inventory of vacant properties. But they also know to price a property to sell. Yes, they will sometimes take less just to get rid of the property. But, it won't be a 75% off fire sale. This ain't Kmart.

If I were in the market right now, knowing what I know, seeing what I've seen, if I saw a property I wanted in the price range I want to spend, I'd put a reasonable offer in (note: I said reasonable, not insulting). And if it was truly what I wanted in my price range, I'd put in a full asking price offer. Because, if it's what I want at what I want to spend, why not?

So, if you're in the market to buy, remember, good deals are everywhere. Heck, great deals are everywhere. And in this market, most are already priced to sell quickly. Make an offer, but keep it real, friend. time you see that infomercial...flip to something more realistic, like "I Dream of Jeannie".

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ten Pound Bag of Potatoes

Recently, Mark and I were talking about my "ten pound bag of potatoes" period of life and he wanted me to write a blog about it. He said it was a good story. The only thing good about it to me is that it's over!! But, I'll humor him, so here goes.

I got my own apartment when I was 22. I moved to Buckhead because that was where I worked and back then (1983), there was all kinds of affordable housing. My apartment was inPeachtree Hills (now a trendy condo community). I paid $375.00 a month for rent on a one bedroom and that included utilities. I didn't have a pot know

I think I made a little over six dollars an hour at Aaron Rents home office on Paces Ferry Road. I also had a $120.00 a month car payment. So sometimes, things were tough.

And on those tough weeks, where I found myself with only a few dollars to eat on, I would go to the Kroger at Ansley Mall and buy a 10 pound sack of potatoes. See, I could eat that out of that bag of potatoes all week. I'd boil them, bake them, mash them and fry them. It would only cost about $2.00 for that bag of potatoes.

I lived like that for about a year. Once I made up my mind to go into sales and I gave it all I had, I was making really good money for the time. I could go to the grocery store and not have to pull change out of the ashtray.

That's why this economical crunch is not scaring me so badly. I know we'll be OK in the end. And in the meantime, if it gets really bad, potatoes are still only around $2.00 for a ten pound bag.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

When Things Sound Too Good To Be True

Recently, a colleague contacted me to talk about listing her home. Funny thing was, when I got there, a sign from another company was already placed. I rang the doorbell and proceeded to tell her I could not even discuss listing her home as she already had it listed with another company. And that's when things got really confusing.

She did not know who this company was or why the sign was in her yard. I scratched my head quite abit. What she did have was an agreement from one of the "we buy houses" companies. Then things started to make sense. I looked at the copy of the agreement and realized what had happened. The agreement was an option to buy her house at a set price. The company had 90 days to purchase her house at the agreed upon price or the option would expire, plain and simple, right?

Only in the option it allowed the company to market her home through a third party (the real estate company whose sign was in the yard) who listed it at much higher than the option price. Are you following me yet? Because it took me awhile to get what was going on. The "we buy your house" company and the listing company would split the profit should it sell at the listed price and the "we buy your house" company would pay the owner the much lower option price.

What was really funny was the "we buy houses" literature stated one reason to use them versus a real estate agent was avoiding paying "high commissions" to the agent. Even at the higher listed price, my commissions would likely have been significantly less than the money to be split by the two companies. That is, unless I can negotiate a 25% commission and if I am able to do that, I am better than I think I am.

So, you ask, what did my friend do? I'm not sure. I did not advise her on anything as these are legal matters and I am not an attorney. I told her I could not be of any service at the present time.

Just remember, the old adage is so true, a deal too good to be true probably isn't.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Soft Market

When I tell someone what I am doing these days and I get that look. You know the one. Like I just grew an extra head out of my shoulders. "But the market is so baaad!!", they say. I was even asked, "Why did you go into Real Estate now?"

This is but a blip on the radar. What is going on now is not uncommon in any market for any commodity. I absolutely cannot wait to see what is coming around the bend. I heard a radio commentator, a famous economic guru, say just yesterday that, yes, home sales have dipped but that can only mean one thing: There is nowhere else to go but up. I really like that. There is nowhere else to go but up.

And I used to have taped to my desk a quote of the Reverend Billy Graham that has lately become my mantra. He said, "Mountaintops are great for views, but corn is grown in the valley." Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a crop to tend.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Day Three With Remax

Well, I am definitely more comfortable than I was on day one. You know, I am 46 years old and an old dog learning new just takes longer sometimes for my computer to process input. But truly, I am getting it. What I mean by that is I am getting the administrative process of working for a Realtor. The selling part I know like the back of my hand.

I started in Sales 25 years ago. As an administrative assistant at Aaron Rents, Inc., home office in Buckhead, I asked for a meeting with the Vice President of the Sells (the rental division was Aaron Rents, the sales division was Aaron Sells) division. I told him I wanted to manage a store. He leaned across his desk, folded his big hands, squinted a little for effect, I guess, and told me I didn't have what it would take to go into sales. No, I should stay behind a desk answering phones and typing. Boy, that was absolutely what I needed to hear. Within a month, I'd secured a position managing a custom order sleeper sofa store in Norcross. It didn't take me long to show Mr. VP of Sells how wrong he'd been. I kicked butt and ran that store for three more years. From there I went on to manage a rattan and wicker specialty store. A year later, my oldest brother, a sales rep for an international waste hauling company, told me about an opportunity coming up in Lawrenceville, Georgia. The waste hauler was expanding and building a district office to service the Northeast section of Metro Atlanta. I interviewed and landed a sales rep position covering Rockdale county, which in the late '80's was still up and coming. Undaunted, I was so successful in this territory, that I was promoted to Major Account Manager a year later, a position I held for the next five years, landing and managing the largest revenue producing accounts in the company. I also handled all municipal bids and contracts (after I left, municipalities was separated as another position and what I had done before now required TWO people).

I left that company for a competitor and managed to work my way quickly into the Major Account Manager position there, also, and successfully sold the largest grossing account in that location's history. After two years here, I had my first daughter and took time to be a mom to her for the next few years. Another daughter followed in 1999 and I wound up doing some various contracting work for yet another national waste hauling company with a location here in Atlanta. Again, doing some market research from home so I could be with my darling girls, I managed to sell waste services to one of the largest property management firms in Georgia with 46 properties that amounted to nearly $30,000.00 a month in revenue for this company. Score another record breaker for the girl who should "stay behind the desk and type"!!

Now, I am on Team Coker and anxious to start selling houses. Selling is what I do best. And many years have gone by since I was told I couldn't do it. My reason for keeping on is not to prove anything to anyone anymore. I do it because of the sheer joy of helping someone get what they want or need. Whether it is finding the perfect color couch to go with the olive green carpet, or helping the facilities management director of a major university finally implement a long needed recycling program for 30 or so buildings, my joy is seeing goals achieved and dreams come true. I tell you, it's a beautiful thing to witness a dream come true and know I had a hand in it. I am ready to help wherever I am needed, buying, selling, or both.

So, for now, that is my story and I am sticking with it. See ya later with more news!