1/18/15: Building Broker Relationships – Finding and Working with the RIGHT Agents

Finding great deals is just ONE of the many valuable services your real estate brokers will provide to you.

And as you might guess…not all real estate brokers are created equally.

In the studio tossing around the topic of building profitable relationships with great real estate brokers:

  • The right host for the job, Robert Helms
  • His broke co-host, Russell Gray
  • The oldest known living broker, The Godfather of Real Estate Bob Helms

It’s often said that real estate investing is a TEAM sport.  We agree.

And some of your most important players are your real estate brokers.

Yes…it’s plural.  But not like you think…

Because at the foundation of a great relationship with a top performing professional is LOYALTY.  So you shouldn’t have 10 guys “competing” for your business.  You’ll get crushed…because none of them will work for you.

They’ll work with the clients who are also top performers…the one’s who close the deals they get into, don’t major in the minors, GLADLY pay a generous commission and liberally provide referrals.

If YOU were a top performing agent with a strong network of leads sources and all kinds of “pocket” (non-public) listings…would you call the more-talk-than-walk, nit-picky, penny-pinching new guy in town with your BEST deal?

Or would you call your loyal, generous, referral-providing, brand-building testimonial-giving, long term client who’s THRILLED when you make a big, fat commission?

Get it?  There’s no room in top tier deal making for win-lose, scarcity mentality deal-making.

Now that doesn’t mean you don’t negotiate for the things you need in the deal…and sometimes a great agent will give a little too in order to get a deal done.  But don’t LEAD with that.

So that’s arguably the MOST important aspect of having a GREAT relationship with your broker.

But there’s more…

Like a great coach, you want to put your players in a position to be successful.  So don’t ask your single-family home agent to handle your big commercial transaction (or vice-versa)…or go outside the market place they know best.

Another aspect of a previous point is that you help your agent find you deals when you actually make offers that close.

Think about it.

If your agent is going into the market competing for the best deals…and he puts you out there and you fail to follow through…you make your agent look BAD in the eyes of his local market place.

“Don’t take any offers from Joe…his clients never close…and they’re a pain to deal with.”

On the other side of the coin…

When your agent has a reputation for getting deals done, other agents in the local market KNOW it…and who do you think they’d rather work with?  Those other agents might not know YOU, but they know your agent.

Make your agent’s success YOUR priority….because if he’s successful, so are you.

But wait!  There’s more…

In a typical transaction, there could be several service providers…appraisers, lenders, property managers, title reps, escrow officers to name a few…who all get paid when the deal gets done.

So obviously, if you don’t perform on a purchase and sale contract, then you disappoint everyone in the food chain.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should do a deal you don’t like.  We’re NOT saying that.

Just remember how small any industry is…even in a large community…and how quickly your name can be gold…or mud.  Keep that in mind ALWAYS.

Because ALL of these people are sources of “insider” deals.  They all have networks.  They can help you find better deals…and can hold a difficult transaction together IF they like you.

Of course, all of this presupposes you can actually win the attention of a top tier broker in a community.

So how do you find that guy or gal?  And more importantly, how do you get their attention?

Ideally, you are referred by someone they already know and trust.  This gets you in, but as we previously discussed, you still need to behave properly.

If you don’t know anyone in a community, then it can take a little longer to get established.  We always recommend building relationships BEFORE doing deals.  So if you’re new to a market, look for trade shows and conferences you can attend.

Often, some of the best people will be there.  Of course, top tier people are also very busy, so they may not be there.  But SOMEONE from the community will be there, so you can begin to network and ask for referrals.

In the internet age, you can quickly research the referral, and if they look good online, you can make contact and get to know them better.

Remember, you’re building a TEAM.  So it’s like dating with marriage in mind.  You’re looking for someone who’s compatible…shares common values…that you’ll enjoy working with for the long haul.

You need to trust your team members in TWO areas…ethics and competency.  Because someone who is competent, but unethical will abuse you with machine like precision.  Someone who’s ethical, but incompetent will apologize profusely and feel terrible when they screw up your deal.

The BEST team members are both ethical AND competent.  When you find a good team member…be loyal, be generous and be thankful.

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The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training and resources that help real estate investors succeed.

1/11/15: Dirt to Dollars – Investing in Raw Land that Cash Flows

Best-selling author James Rickards (Currency Wars and The Death of Money) recommends land as a place to store and protect wealth from the dangers of paper currencies.

A falling dollar creates financial turmoil.  James Rickards recommends land as a safe haven.In spite of the recent blip up, the dollar has a 100 year history of going DOWN, so it probably makes sense to “sell” dollars when they’re “high” and buy real assets…like real estate…especially when those real assets are on sale.

BUT…the challenge is that land doesn’t cash flow like little green houses.  Or does it?

In the broadcast barn to explore how to get more green from your acres:

  • Your erudite host, Robert Helms
  • His not-so-glamorous co-host, Russell Gray
  • Special guest and renowned financial commentator (The Gartman Letter), Dennis Gartman
  • Special guest and agricultural land expert, Steve Bruere

The beautiful thing about real estate…one of many beautiful things…is there are SO many different ways to make money.

Real estate investors can do just about anything a paper asset investor can do, but be much more insulated from the corruption and rigging in financial markets.

Most people think of real estate investing as the house they live in…maybe a second home…or even a rental property.  More serious investors look at multi-family, commercial, retail…and maybe even industrial.

But if you think back to the very beginning of real estate ownership, the PRIMARY purpose of land was to produce food.

And last time we looked, food is still a pretty important commodity.

So while residential real estate investors…landlords…need to pay attention to jobs and wages, agricultural real estate investors (and mineral investors…like oil and gas producing properties) need to pay attention to commodities.

It isn’t really more difficult than employment and wages.  It’s just different.

And if you want your land to cash flow, you don’t need little green houses or big red hotels.  You can rent your land to farmers.Make your land cash flow by renting to a farmer

This is a subject that’s intrigued us for quite some time.  When financial markets are jittery, it can be smart to focus on “primal” investing…things that are essential to human existence.  Because even in difficult financial times, there’s always a demand for essentials…like food and shelter.

Dennis Gartman is the author of The Gartman LetterIn this episode we visit with Dennis Gartman, who’s one of the most well known and respected financial commentators.  We ask him about macro-economic factors which impact not just farmland and commodities, but residential real estate as well.

You should listen to his comments, but the short of it is he likes housing.  Cool.  So do we.

Next up is Steve Bruere.  Steve is a very experienced farmland broker from America’s heartland.Steve Bruere is a land broker with Peoples Company

We’ve been talking about agricultural investing for the last couple of years, but haven’t focused much on U.S. farmland.  Steve helps us understand some of the how and why of U.S. farmland investing.

More mouths to feed means perpetual demand for food and famrlandWhen we look at the world, we see more mouths to feed.  And while we’re not quite sure where all those mouths will want to live and work, we’re pretty sure they’ll all want to eat.

And because the fruit of the land can be shipped to where the people are, farmland investing can be a great way to get in on the action without having to rely upon the local economy.

Just think about investors with properties in the Bakken.  If oil prices stay down long term, North Dakota might not be very profitable for real estate investors.

Another nice feature is that renting to a farmer is like owning a hotel property and renting to a hotel operator…or like renting a commercial property to a business.  EXCEPT…you don’t have the tenant improvements and other expenses of maintaining a physical structure.  It’s more like a NNN lease.

So farmland investing can be a great way to store wealth in real estate long term, while generating cash flows while you wait.  And if the the local path of progress brings people to your pasture, then you can put up some buildings…or sell to a developer…and move your equity to a new market.

Listen Now: 

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  • Don’t miss an episode of The Real Estate Guys™ radio show.  Subscribe to the free podcast!
  • Stay connected with The Real Estate Guys™ on Facebook!

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training and resources that help real estate investors succeed.

1/4/15: Nine Steps to Jump Start Your Real Estate Investing Career

9 Steps For Learning How To Get Started In Real Estate Investing 

Learning how to get started in real estate or any new skill is a bit like being on a football team. At the end of each football season, teams and coaches do this…and then they begin preparing for the next season.

A big part of that preparation is focusing on essential fundamentals.  These aren’t just blocking, tackling, throwing, catching, etc.

Football teams also evaluate their strategic plan…including personnel, offensive and defensive strategies…even marketing and public relations.

So at the start of this new year, whether you’re just figuring out how to get started in real estate investing, starting over or wanting to jump start to the next level, we have 9 fundamentals every real estate investor can focus on to make 2015 their best year ever.

Sitting at the starting gate ready to put the pedal to the metal and our mouths to the microphone:

  • The Speed Racer of Speech, host Robert Helms
  • The Chim Chim of Chat, co-host Russell Gray
  • The Pops Racer of Pontification and Godfather of Real Estate, Bob Helms

Everyone wants to get rich quick.  That’s why it’s such a popular topic on late night TV infomercials.  The only thing more popular is get thin fast.

In both cases, the true secret is simple… do the right things the right way in the right order long enough to achieve your goal.

Or as we say it, Vision + Knowledge + Discipline = Effective Action.

Vision is what YOU want.  Knowledge is knowing HOW to get there.  Discipline is the resolve and tenacity to DO what you know and not quit until the job gets done.

So with that foundation, let’s take a look at our 9 steps that are good for how to get started in real estate or take your investing to the next level:

1.  Decide Who YOU Are

Do you want to be a hands-on, jack of all trades, do-it-yourself real estate investor…buzzing around your local market making deals, rehabbing properties and managing tenants?

Is it a full time job…or something you want to do on top of your full time job?

Do you want to focus on working at whatever you’re already doing to make money and taking your savings and putting it to work through other people like your real estate brokers, property managers and fund managers?  This is the way most people invest in the stock market.

OR…do you want to go big and raise money from other savers, and spend your time watching macro-trends, analyzing markets, working with your advisors, making deals and overseeing your team?

They’re all valid. Just VERY different in terms of how you spend your time, who you work with, and what you need to know.

To get started, you might start in a specific niche like brokerage, property management, contracting, finance, or fund raising.

You also might start by working or volunteering with someone else, or simply investing your own money with someone else in exchange for the experience.

And don’t be afraid to get it “wrong”.  You can always change later.  But you can’t be all things to all people all the time.  And you can’t do everything all at once.  So CHOOSE.

2.  Take Inventory

Many businesses end each year by taking inventory of everything they have, so they can start the new year from a defined starting point…and they know what they have to work with.  Ditto for sports teams.

What do YOU have in terms of time, skills, relationships, cash, credit, cash-flow and equity?

What and who do you have ready access to in terms of people with time, skills, relationships, cash, credit, cash-flow and equity?

Make a list and figure out what resources are at your disposal right now, so you have a clearly defined starting point.

3.  Pick a General Direction (Vision) and Start Moving

We’re big fans of planning.  But planning is an iterative process.

First, you PLAN….then you DO…then you REVIEW.

Then you take what you learned in the review to adjust your plan, and you repeat the cycle OVER and OVER and OVER.

The problem with planning is it’s a safe place to get excited.  It’s all hope and opportunity.  Every play goes for a touchdown…on the chalkboard.

But in any business, momentum is essential. And the only way to get it is to get moving. So once you have a basic plan and general direction, you’re ready to start.  Get moving.

4.  Create an Identity

In step 1, you decided who you are.  So now you know.  But no one else does.

So it’s important to create an outward persona for your business that you can present to the world.

A business name, a title, a phone, address, website… it’s cheap, easy and fast. Keep it simple.

When you meet people, they will want to look you up online.  Clean up anything messy that’s out there, and build something that presents you more like the person you’re becoming.

Be careful not to stretch the truth beyond credibility. Showing yourself in the best light (spin) is much different than fabricating experience, credentials, resume etc.  Don’t lie.

And before we leave this one, consider this: how many times have you seen mega-corporations reinvent their brand?  A new logo, a new slogan, a new mission, etc.

The point is that even established businesses strategically decide to reinvent their identities in order to be more effective in the market place.

5. Get Out There

Today, “out there” has dual meaning…but it all comes back to networking.

Online, it’s called Social Media networking… Facebook, Linked In, a website.  Make it easy for people to find you, share you, and bring you opportunities.

Go to lots of meetings, seminars, conferences.  Learn the lingo.  Find the players.  Look for role models and advisors.

Your team and associations are part of your “brand”.  People will judge you (right or wrong) not only by how you look and act, but by who you associate with.

6. Lead With Value

Give more than you get. Look for problems and solutions and then connect the two. Be patient. Sew good will.

The more you help people, the more they will help you.

And every person’s problem is an opportunity for someone else…maybe someone who has something or knows someone that YOU want to know.  You can actually trade in problems and solutions.

This is REALLY important if you’re starting with very little money.  If you have tons of money, deals will find you.  If you have tons of money, you might not need to win friends and advisors, you can buy them.

If your financial resources are small, your relationship resources need to be BIG.

Always remember: it’s easier to make friends than money, and it’s easier to make money with friends.

7. Become an Expert

Pick something to become super smart about.  Not EVERY thing.  Just SOME thing.

It could be a marketplace, a neighborhood, a product type, an investment strategy, a marketing technique for finding deals or raising money, credit repair, deal negotiation, construction…something.

Pick something that interests you, that you’re naturally good at, and that can be directly applied to adding value to other people.

Hint: There’s two things that really matter in real estate investing. Deals and money (cash, credit, cash flow, and collateral)

Notice that you don’t become an expert BEFORE you Get Out There or Lead with Value. Expertise will come.

Get out there.  Add value.  NOW.

8. Help a Successful Person

Now you’re starting to build resources. You have a network of people who know, like you and are beginning to trust you.

You have a growing expertise that can be used to help other people. You’ve developed into a more valuable commodity in the marketplace.

Now, go find someone who is doing what you want to be doing, connected to who you want to know, or knows how to do something you want to learn, or has access to deals and/or funding you want to get closer to…

Then study them and see if there any way your expertise can be applied to helping them get what they want.  This is your ticket into the relationship.

Referring someone else isn’t good enough. Unless your value add is you hustle up other experts. Otherwise, your expertise needs to enhance their business.

It’s like looking for a job without the paycheck.

Does that mean you work for free?

No. It means you work for something other than money.


It’s about relationships.

If you’re like most people, you want to know how to do everything. You think knowledge is power. And the more knowledge you have, the more powerful you are.

Yes and no.

If it was all about tactical know how, then lawyers, real estate agents, loan brokers, CPAs, would all be the richest. But they aren’t. That’s why they work for guys like you.

Tactical knowledge is MISSION CRITICAL.  But YOU don’t have to have it…at least not all of if.

You just need to have a good relationship with people who do.

So while you’re expert in 1 or 2 things, and you use that expertise to build strategic relationship, the knowledge junkies will study and study and study all about how to do every little thing…trying to be expert in 20 different disciplines, not being great at any, and having no time for relationships, strategic thinking or uncovering rare opportunities.

Don’t be Mr. Know-it-All.  Be Mr. Known (and liked) by All (or at least as many of the right people as possible).

9. Learn by Doing

The best way to learn how to get started in real estate is by doing.

When you get into a real life situation, it forces you to focus and follow through.

If you get over your head and have no relationships…you’re screwed. All you can do is hire expensive help…most of whom have never really done what you’re trying to do.

But if you have patiently laid a foundation of relationships with the right people, then when you get in over your head, you call your friends for advice.

YOU must be willing to ask for help. YOU have to be someone other people want to help.

When you are learning how to get started in real estate, the next best way to learn is to attend live events. Podcasts, videos, webinar and books are all great…and you should be consuming all of that. But not for the reasons you think and not all by yourself if you can help it.

You consume online content to stimulate your creativity, learn the jargon, get ideas you can use in conversations with people you want to build a relationship with. You learn so you can share knowledge…not hoard it.

Live events are best because they force you to focus and interact with other people.

Expensive events, as soon as you can afford them, are better than cheap events. Cheap people are at cheap events. Expensive people are at expensive events. Who do you want in YOUR network?

Live events let you study people in action…how they present themselves, how they interact with others.

Go to all the networking. Stay late. Mingle. If you’re shy, make one friend. Just make sure that one friend is social!

Shadow programs are great. If someone will let you ride around for a day or two or five, do it. If you have to pay, give it serious consideration. Maybe you can barter.

Imagine trying to learn to walk, talk and ride a bike locked in your room as a kid.  You learned by going out and playing.

The complicated stuff like throwing a ball or riding a bike, you had a teacher…a mentor…who not only showed you what to do, they protected you from serious danger, while encouraging you through the awkward progression of learning the skill.

Becoming a real estate investor is NO different.

Imagine if you approached learning to ride a bicycle the way some people approach learning to invest…

You study physics, mechanical engineering, bio-mechanics.  You learn about risk mitigation like bandaging, treating abrasions, setting broken bones. You read the bicycle manual over and over.

Have you seen some of the successful real estate investors out there? Some of them can hardly spell.  There are people driving cars every day who have no idea how to change the oil.

The secret to getting started in real estate investing…or anything else…is to get started.

And you start with getting to know YOU, what you have, want and need.

Then you go where like-minded people are (online or real world) and find out what they have, want and need. Then you make friends and help each other.

And when you have money, you’ll have more and better friends, you’ll do more expensive things together, but the basic formula is the same.

Build your brand (how people feel when they think of you) and your network (how many people you know), and be obsessed about adding genuine value to the world strategically…being careful to associate with people who are doing the same.

Do this for at least a year…and DON’T LET UP.  You’ll be AMAZED  at what happens.


Listen Now: 

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The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training and resources that help real estate investors succeed.