Yes, You Can Be A Hero And Have Your Best Year Ever
“One out of 10 homeowners is not making their mortgage payment.”
“One out of six homeowners has an upside-down mortgage.”
“Seven out of 10 homeowners who lose their home to foreclosure didn’t contact a real estate agent or lender prior to foreclosure.”
These are just some of the statistics I heard at a Short Sale Summit in February in Carlsbad, California.
The guest speaker was Alex Charfen, co-founder of the Distressed Property Institute, who added that, with regards to today’s market, “What’s going on has just begun. If this were a baseball game, it’s inning number two or three.”
And while today’s market is no game, it is, says Charfen, a “once-in-a-lifetime gold rush” if you become the short sale expert in your area. That doesn’t mean a reluctant “Yeah, OK, I’ll do that short sale,” or a desperate “I’ll take that short sale – I’ll take anything!” That doesn’t mean you just add “Short Sale Expert” to your business cards and advertising.
It does mean you’ve spent serious time acquiring the knowledge to become an expert on helping people who are facing the worst (or close to it) financial crisis of their lives. It means you seek out prospects in a short sale situation. It means that you advertise for those prospects, you embrace those prospects, and you commit to helping them negotiate the best possible outcome.
It means you understand that you’re not doing this just for the commission check. You want to sell that home. You want to help that family avoid foreclosure and financial ruin. You want to help not just your client, but their entire community so it doesn’t turn into a ghost town of empty, neglected houses.
Why would I want to do that, you’re asking? Why not let some other agent deal with those people and their problems? Just give me a nice two-income family, 720+ FICO, steady jobs, big down payment, and I’ll find them the perfect home.
Of course you will. That is, if you can find that dream client.
There just aren’t that many of them out there. If they’re that dreamy, they’re generally already in a house and they’re not moving up or down or anywhere else until the economy is in better shape. It’s that lack of dream clients that’s driving record numbers of real estate agents out of the business every month.
So, who is out there to buy short sale properties? Plenty of first-time buyers, especially people who are renting. Relocating families who have to move. Investors looking to start or expand their portfolio. Short sales are an opportunity to acquire a property at below-market value. Read: A great deal for buyers. There are a lot of properties to choose from, and banks would rather sell the property than go through the time and expense of foreclosure (that is, “They’d rather remove a non-performing asset prior to acquisition,” as Charfen puts it).
What’s truly a pity – it’s worse than a pity – is the number of people whose homes go into foreclosure when they might have had a successful short sale. There’s a wealth of misinformation out there, and there are many people who actually think, “Short sale or foreclosure – same thing.” So they miss a mortgage payment, and then another and then another, and their lives go into a high-speed, downward spiral.
It doesn’t have to be that way, says Charfen. Once an agent is armed with training and a support network, “The agent lets people in his database and others know that he’s the short sale expert, he’s available, and he can help the seller sell and the buyer buy. He begins helping people, and his delighted clients enthusiastically refer him to their family members, friends and coworkers in similar situations. He becomes known as the short sale ‘Super Hero’ who not only handles short sales professionally and effectively, but he saves people from foreclosure.”
That’s not to suggest short sales are easy – they’re not. They require significantly more, and different, paperwork than a traditional real estate sale, and one missing piece can delay the transactions for weeks or months – or kill it altogether. Being a short sale Super Hero requires exceptional negotiating skills as you represent the seller and interact with the buyer’s agent or offers from multiple buyers’ agents. At various times you may be in contact with attorneys, title people, property tax people, contractors, tax advisors, accountants, and others. And then there’s the lender in the form of the loss mitigator, an overworked, underappreciated person who already has 300 files on his desk and why should he give yours priority? No, short sales are not easy. If they were, everyone would be doing them – right?
There are amazing opportunities right now for real estate agents who
o Are willing to spend the time to become educated about short sales.
o Are committed to putting the systems in place to help manage these complex transactions.
o Want more than a commission check – you want to help people get the best financial results possible and move on with their lives.
Those agents will prosper in this marketplace and make 2009 their best year ever.