How Do I Know I’m a Real Estate Investor?

I recently had a long chat with one of the most successful real estate investors I’ve ever met. As I often do, I wanted to get a real understanding of the “Why?” he did real estate and what he wanted to accomplish for himself by reaching financial freedom.

You see, I am firmly convinced of the truth that “If you have a big enough ‘Why?’ to do something, the ‘How?’ will reveal itself to you. This gentleman had some good things to say about the concept and completely opened my mind up to even deeper levels of understanding about the terms “success” and “freedom”.

Listen, if you’re serious about making real estate investing an ultra-successful career for you, you have to go even further than just having investing in real estate be what you do for a living.

It has to become a lifestyle. He threw my questions right back at me and we had some great give-and-take and it was like you could really feel that chemistry that comes into play when entrepreneurs are talking about their passion of investing in real estate.

For him, it came down to asking this question, which fans of Tony Robbins should recognize its like:

“If I had unlimited time, unlimited money, unlimited resources and encouragement, unlimited tools and teaching, unlimited support from friends and family, and unlimited belief in myself…what would I do? Who would I be?”

Most of us would do the things that are passionate about, right?

He was able early on to answer that he wanted to be a real estate investor who helped people solve problems and made money by investing in real estate. What he shared with me, however, is that he didn’t self-identify as a “real estate investor” until many, many years later.

Until that moment, years later, when he claimed and began now to internalize the belief that “I am a real estate investor”, he was a hobbyist, a dabbler, a dreamer.

He had this experience of self-actualization at a real estate seminar where one of the participants asked the speaker “How do I really know that I’m a real estate investor?”

The speaker responded that “You know you’re a true investor when you can’t NOT invest!”

He then went on to tell me that during the same seminar someone, obviously someone without a very strong “Why?” or motivation yet to become successful, asked the speaker “How can I find time in my busy schedule to do this business?”

The looked at this questioner with the same patience and understanding that showed that this was the hundredth time the speaker had fielded this question, and said in effect “If you’re a real estate investor, you do not find time to invest and do this business…if you’re serious about this business you make time to do it.”

After my incredibly successful investor friend let that sink into him and he found that he could really grasp hold of those two simple concepts, he realized then and there that he’d always been trying to FIND the time to invest and take the necessary actions to get his business going. For all of his “career” to that point he had been finding and taking that time to do his “business” AFTER other things that his attention and time expenditures PROVED were MORE important to him than becoming successful with real estate.

The difference, after he had let these two concepts sink into him and really started to understand it and, most importantly, APPLY his understanding to his thought patterns and daily routines…

…the difference was that he did not just IGNORE the real-world practical matters that NEED to be a part of someone’s life (like for example to the beginning real estate investor, a steady income from a stable source to provide bills’ money and put food on the table) but other than that, he ASSURED himself that he would always MAKE time to create the life he wanted that was in answer to his compelling “Why?” to become successful- and he did it by taking solid, CONSISTENT actions and gaining unstoppable momentum.

I think that these 2 concepts- of IDENTITY and claiming that you ARE what you want to be, and CONSISTENCY in finding the time necessary to DO what you ARE- applies to anyone wishing to turn a dream into a reality, whether it is to become a successful real estate investor or whatever, be it a published author, big ticket actress, or even just someone who wants to become the “World’s Best Dad”.

Just substitute whatever it is that you’re passionate about for finding time to do “real estate investing” and knowing how you are really a “real estate investor?” and you’re on your way, if real estate investing is not your passion.

I understand for many people it’s NOT. Many people want to USE the VEHICLE of real estate to take them to a place where you have the freedom and the luxury of time, and you have been able to achieve the financial security and independence to do what you want when you want.

Now, with me, it’s writing. I’m passionate about writing, and will write whether or not I get paid for it. It’s not just what I DO, but it’s who I AM.

How would you answer my friend’s question…if you had everything you ever needed already ACCOMPLISHED by investing in real estate and building a positive and successful lifestyle with plenty of passive income coming in every week?

What would YOU do? Who would you BE?

What’s your dream? What’s YOUR true passion?

What will you do with the extraordinary wealth you can accumulate in real estate?

Now I want you to write down what you are passionate about. You are passionate about something besides money, right? 😉 I certainly hope so! If you aren’t, it’s time to ask yourself a good hard question and take a long look at yourself and find out why not!

Maybe your answer is like mine, that wealth and income from real estate investing can give me the freedom to write whenever I want, to get paid or not get paid but to have the flexibility for it not to MATTER. Maybe you want to spend more time with your family. Maybe you want to escape the 9 to 5 grind and make sure that you never miss another Little League game. Maybe you want to spend time golfing, fishing, or sailing, or learning the intricacies of Thai cuisine.

Maybe in financial freedom you’d want to travel all over the world (of course, you’d at least LOOK at real estate while you’re there right? That’s called taking a PAYcation instead of a VACATION and you need to ask your tax professional about THAT little gift from Uncle Sam).

Whatever your “Why?” is take a moment now and write it down! Commit this to paper. It’s important!

Now, here’s where my friend and I agree that most people stop. This is hard. In fact, it’s often a question that if you give it the thought and meditation time that it deserves just might make you cry or knock you flat on your backside. Asking this next question you’re about to ask yourself can be downright HUMBLING or even, in some cases, extremely UPSETTING. But, you GOTTA do it!

Now, write down your well-thought answers to this question:

Why aren’t you living this life and doing all these things you desire NOW? If you’re not close, what would it take for you to be able to live your life of destiny and dreams?

Think this is a silly exercise? Just ask yourself, “Am I getting the results right now that I want out of my life?” If you’re not, well…it might be wise to consider some opinions. 😉

Just remember, without a map there is no treasure! Your “Why?” is the map that will keep you on track towards gaining momentum to becoming the IDENTITY of a true entrepreneur and professional real estate investor. And it keeping this in mind will PUSH you into taking all the actions necessary, in a CONSISTENT manner, to achieving everything it is that, until you WRITE IT DOWN, you only SAY that you really want.

Qualities of a Top Real Estate Broker

The real estate business sees different people playing different roles. These include mortgage brokers, bankers, home inspectors, contractors, appraisers, property managers, and several others. That’s not even counting the seller and potential buyers, for any property listed. The various contributions they make are too numerous to list, but are all very important. One thing that remains constant: it is the Real Estate Broker who ties it all together. That’s right, he or she calls all of these different people out where needed, to get the client’s needs met. They facilitate communication between all of the people involved, and keep track of the progress. So the question begs asking: what are the qualities of a top Real Estate Broker?

Many people can become a Realtor of one sort or another and start a real estate career. Only a rare select few rise to the top. One of the qualities they require from Day 1? The ability to wear several “hats” at once. At various stages in the process, a great Broker alternates between consultant, buyer’s advocate, salesperson, analyst, and negotiator… to name a few. Naturally, not everyone is born with the ability to juggle all these tasks at once. Some skills are instinctual, some are taught, and some we copy from other successful people. Similar to other fields, however, certain characteristics keep coming back when top Real Estate Brokers are studied.

PASSION

It’s extremely difficult to make it in this business without a genuine heartfelt passion. Many long hours, hard work, persistence, and a commitment to long-term goals lead the list. You don’t accept so many rejections and keep working that darn hard, without passion. Enough said.

ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT

This isn’t just about becoming wealthy, it’s the intangibles: self-starter, endless motivation, strong drive, free thinker, patience, and good instincts. Staying open to new ideas -because you’re not convinced you know everything- allows for learning. Being cooperative with other Brokers around town allows for joint efforts down the line. Putting their motivation to grow the business ahead of their ego.

Being your own boss is a lot easier than it sounds, but it’s not for everyone. Only those with the desire to control their own professional destiny. To be successful in real estate requires large amounts of “guts” and a risk-taker attitude. Lastly, being persistent and tenacious, without being annoying to the other side. These are the qualities of a top Real Estate Broker.

GREAT COMMUNICATOR

This not only means the ability to speak freely, sound educated, or knowing how to pick up a phone or compose an email. This also refers to passing along important details to the right people, and leaving out unnecessary stuff to others. It’s a regular flow of info via phone, text, e-mail, or whatever medium the client prefers; while expressing yourself effectively on each. Saying more while using less words is also among the qualities of a top Real Estate Broker.

BE POLISHED

Punctual, well-dressed, well-groomed, using proper language skills, chewing with your mouth closed, and always maintaining class and sophistication. Most of this category is superficial, indeed, but the exterior is what makes the first impression. This also includes not taking 7 other phone calls or texts while meeting your new client for coffee. Remain confident but never arrogant.

PART-TIME PSYCHOLOGIST

There’s so much emotion involved in Real Estate transactions -especially residential- that removing the human element is almost impossible. This means that reading people, both in what they do and do not say, is crucial. Interpreting your customer’s non-verbal signals and behaviours allows you to better understand their needs.

There is so much they will not tell you outwardly, but from the small cues you need to get a feel for:

A client’s time frame. Are they in a hurry?

The real motivation to buy or sell, which affects their decisions.

Are they more price-sensitive than willing to admit?

Who’s the opinion leader in a married couple?

How much information becomes too much?

Knowing when to use humour to lighten the mood.

LARGE NETWORK

Another of the qualities of a top Real Estate Broker. They start with a small network of people (family, friends, etc.) but have the ability to grow it very quickly. This is done in many ways, and the most important are:

1- Being a people-person, not shy to introduce themselves.

2- Surrounding themselves with top professionals in complementary businesses.

3- Staying true to their word as they ask clients for referrals.

MOVING QUICKLY

A top Real Estate Broker returns calls and e-mails at crazy fast speed, recognizing that every lead for a new client or scoop on a property is invaluable. They make immediate contact and always follow up, since time is of the essence in keeping that lead “warm”. They are the champions of quick communication and use technology all day long. IE. Not falling asleep at the switch, so their new client doesn’t think they forgot about them.

PATIENCE

Everyone in this business eventually learns that this is a marathon and not a sprint. Many seeds are planted, months and even years, before the crops can be harvested. Most of the cold calls for soliciting new clientele are met with a “No”, and the majority of viewings don’t end with a sale. A top Real Estate Broker also needs to deal with many interesting characters along the way: some unreliable, some dishonest, some anxious, some indecisive, and the list goes on. The most patience is needed with the clients who ask as many questions as humanly possible, then pause to think of some more. This is normal, and part of human nature. Another of the qualities of a top Real Estate Broker is the patience to answer every question and stay on the phone with nervous clients as long as necessary.

ALWAYS PROSPECTING

This absolutely has to be one of the top qualities of a top real estate broker. This refers to finding new leads, or prospective clientele, on a regular basis. How it is done could fill an entire book (or at least another article) all on its own. For the time being, let’s recognize that one can never have too many potential customers in their pipeline. The well can “run dry” for anyone at any time, and there are no shortage of ways to prospect in our times.

Technology has added so many mediums to the traditional TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, and billboards. The number of web-based available tools are almost uncountable, but sufficed to say that a real estate website and strong social media presence are absolutely essential. There are also specialized lead generating platforms which could make life a lot easier. A top Broker uses all of them.

BEING A “NEIGHBOURHOOD EXPERT”

Local knowledge is extremely important among the qualities of a top Real Estate Broker. Not only will it save time when searching listings and answers to specific questions, it also provides immediate selling points. Nearby schools, daycares, sports arenas, churches, local shopping malls, and public transportation are great seasoning on the dish a Broker is serving up to buyers in his/her neighborhood. Knowing what developments are coming down the road is even more impressive. Future plans for a region are helpful, and so is knowing the history. Don’t get caught off guard with a question about an old burial ground or water contamination issue from last year, from a buyer who did their homework.

A broker who shows they’ve never done business in that part of town looks like a beginner (even with years of experience elsewhere), and that doesn’t inspire confidence in anyone.

ORGANIZED AND DETAIL-ORIENTED

This is absolutely essential to managing a busy schedule. If a Broker can’t keep their commitments straight on an hourly basis, they’ve lost already. If electronic tools don’t work for him or her, they should keep an old-school planner book in their pocket. The more appointments they keep and phone calls they return, the more impressed their clients and contacts will remain.

Attention to detail can mean all the difference in closing a sale. A top Real Estate Broker knows that the smallest changes can make a property far more attractive. They are creative with their beautiful real estate listings and take the best photographs of every home. Spotting the key details in homes they deal with can give a Broker the upper-hand in negotiations.

Some of this can be taught, some just comes naturally, but all of these are the qualities of a top Real Estate Broker. Dealing with a credible and established Real Estate Agency definitely helps the odds of becoming one, or finding one as a client in your town.

10 Secrets of a Great Real Estate Blog

Blogs are certainly a trendy marketing tool for a lot of industries, but it seems to be white hot for Realtors and real estate brokerages. Unfortunately, most of them are haphazard attempts to simply have one. This approach could actually do more damage than good–it will be part of your brand.

So, if you are going to have a blog–do it right.

Be Real (Hopefully That’s Interesting)

One of the cardinal rules of blogging is to be real. The early origins of blogging were about capturing spontaneous musings. Preserve this.

You can be professional, yet still reveal your personality and passions. A blog presents you an informal realm to draw in people like you and form deeper relationships. Imagine getting a call from a prospective customer just because you both like to scuba dive.

Make It Local, Hyper Local

Real estate is a local business. Customers want to know you are their neighbor and your interests are aligned. Customers want assurances that you know the real estate market and the local community.

Share your community service, local involvement, and insights on the community. A blog is a great place to talk about your visit to talk to the planning commission on the new bike path, or helping the Elementary School raise funds for a new playground, or that your daughter just made All-State in soccer.

Fill It With Pictures

When people are looking for a home or a Realtor they want to make sure they are in a “good neighborhood.” Nothing makes this story come alive like pictures.

Give your readers an idea of what your represent. The community your serve:

  • The homes
  • The schools
  • The library
  • The recreation
  • The people
  • The events

Your pictures should sell the community and you as its representative.

Explain Current Trends

Buying or selling a home can be confusing. Real estate buying and selling is typically a unique or at least rare financial transaction. Many of your readers will be unfamiliar with the current state of the market. Use simple language to bring them up to speed.

Your blog can be an informal tool to track and simplify real estate trends. It can also allow you to explain how national trends and media coverage affects your community.

Educate and Foreshadow

Begin educating your client before they ever engage you. No one likes to feel ignorant or surprised. The more simple information you provide and clear expectations you set the better your results–more inquiries and smoother transactions.

Real estate blogs should be about engagement, relationship building, and comfort.

Answer Questions

More than likely your blog readers are there because they have questions. Make them feel like you are open to engagement. Ask for opinions. Encourage comments. Respond to all questions.

Seed the discussion if you have to, but get people talking on your blog.

Don’t Forget Your Contact Info

Comments aren’t the only way to get your readers talking to you. Make sure you have lots of alternatives for people to engage you in ways they are most comfortable–telephone, email, IM, Twitter.

If engaged–be responsive.

Suggest Mortgage Lenders

Realtors guard referrals like currency and rightly so. However, more than ever mortgage brokers understand Internet leads and Web traffic. Show your customers that you have viable options for them to finance their new home.

These suggestions, references, and links also demonstrate transparency. Readers will have a higher level of comfort that you will offer them choices, not commission steered recommendations.

Showcase Your Network

Remember there are often two side to every real estate transaction. Blogrolls and links to mortgage lenders offers financing solutions. Likewise, linking to other Realtors may help your clients find representation for their counterpart purchase or sale in another market.

References and discussions with other real estate professionals also endorses your reputation and credibility in the industry. Building a strong mortgage and realtor network will drive you customers.

Do Not Talk to Your Peers!

Although building a good professional network is valuable do not waste you blog juice on them. There are lots of professional organizations, forums, and communities. Your blog should be about your customers. They are wandering around in the dangerous world of cyberspace looking for answers, give them a safe and happy home.

Creating Your Real Estate Investing Vision

What is a vision statement? It is a clearly stated desired outcome for the future of your business. It’s what you think your company will be like in one, two, five, ten, or however many years down the road. A clear vision statement makes each business day a bit easier. Many different challenges and obstacles will arise, but a clear vision will allow you to prioritize that which will lead you to your goal. And this clear vision is another item wealthy Americans have in common. Your vision statement gives you the correct direction to take at any given moment and having that focus and direction empowers you and your business to take the right steps.

A vision statement consists of 3 steps: why you are doing this business, how you will get there, and where your final destination is.

As you are determining your final destination, understanding ‘why’ this is your final destination is important. Are you building a business so you can create a legacy for your family? Or fulfill a lifelong passion or dream? When you’re ‘why’ is greater than any obstacle you come across, you will find the power to overcome any obstacles that get in your way.

Your actions and vision must match. If they do not, then the business will not perform. I remember speaking to a gentleman who was trying to make the transition from job to real estate investor. He’d been looking into becoming an investor for a couple of years but never really got going. I asked him what he wanted to get out of being a real estate investor; how he wanted to be living his life 7 years from now. He told his vision: to sit on the beach in Hawaii, sipping fancy drinks all day, and cashing in ‘mailbox’ money without the hassles of having to manage anyone.

I asked him what real estate strategy he was going to use. He told me he was a handy craftsman, and as such, he wanted to be a fix and flipper. Specifically, he had about $100k in the bank, and he wanted to use it to buy a house at a discount, repair himself, sell for a profit, and live off the income.

Vision: lay in paradise living off of passive income

Course of action: build a business around himself, where he has to do all the work, and leads to transactional income, not passive income.

Results: 2 years and hadn’t even submitted an offer.

His strategy was in no way related to what his ultimate passion was. No wonder he hadn’t taken action in 2 years!

When assessing what it is that you want to achieve out of the career of being an investor, you will need to assess what you currently have to offer. There are four main reasons why people fail in real estate: lack of knowledge, time, money/credit, or an abundance of fear. Of those four, which do you have plenty of and which will become an obstacle?

For example, a new investor may not have much money, credit, or knowledge, and they may be scared to take action. But they may have a lot of spare time. If time is a premium for the individual, then they may be able to connect with someone who has a job, money, credit, and knowledge but doesn’t have the time to find real estate bargains. Understanding one’s own advantages and how that fits in with others can help determine what strategy they should focus to getting into this endeavor.

The second item you will need to consider is what do you like doing? For me, I enjoy money. But I don’t enjoy the labor that goes along with earning money. Most of my adult, professional life has been spent as a manager, leading others to do the dirty work for me.

Would performing fix and flips be a good idea for someone like me? A hammer in the hand of a craftsman is a true work of art. A hammer in my hand is a weapon of mass destruction! How should someone like me proceed in Real Estate?

I absolutely look for opportunities to create transactions that do involve repairs, such as fix and flips and short sales. Why would I be involved in a business that is built around a skill set that I lack? Because I am highly skilled in the art of dialing a phone and delegating these tasks to someone more qualified than I.

Seriously, a fix and flip, rehab, or short sale repair is not a task I have any interest in performing myself. Rather, I look at a fix and flip as an opportunity to analyze the property in its current state, create a plan, acquire capital for the project, monitor performance, and sell for a profit. This process fits in with my goal of creating profitable transactions without performing manual labor! Plus, if I’m not physically involved, I am able to perform, or manage, multiple projects at one time. And, realistically, I could do this from a beach in Hawaii, provided I can get phone and internet service.

Many new investors make the mistake of believing owning a business is doing all of the work themselves, and this fatal assumption causes many investors back into the workforce.

Millionaire Quote: The Fatal Assumption is: if you understand the technical work of a business, you understand a business that does technical work. The reason this assumption is fatal is because it is not true. The technical work of a business and a business that does technical work are two different things. – Michael Gerber, The E-Myth.

There’s real power in writing down a vision statement. Something about the act of putting your vision or goals to paper that turns an intangible idea into a reality. Remember, it’s important to have thoroughly evaluated your strengths, weaknesses, goals, values, inclinations and resources before you develop a vision statement. The statement should contain:

• Your ‘WHY’ for being in business

• Your ‘SACRIFICES’; the actions you’ll take to create the reality embodied in your vision

• Your ‘DESTINATION’; the outcome you desire

Put a lot of time an effort into your vision statement because it will (or should) guide every business decision you make. And don’t fall into the trap of creating the kind of fluff too often found in corporate brochures – words and phrases that sound great, but that lack any true meaning. Be specific and brief.

A formula that might help you get started if you’re stuck is:

I use my __________ and __________ to ___________________________.

For example, “I use my analytical, managerial, & sales skills, and passion for financial freedom to create a profitable real estate business that I can manage from anywhere.”

That brief statement is easy to understand, it has real meaning, and it’s specific. For me, this statement reminds me that I don’t have to know how to lay carpet or install cabinets. I choose to create a business that establishes processes and systems to accomplish these tasks. My role is to not only manage them, but to manage them from afar!

This statement works for me, but will not work for other people. The trick is not to duplicate others statements, but to invent your own! Consider all possibilities. Now create your vision statement.