Thursday, August 13, 2009

Investing 101: Real Estate Is A People Business

(Note: Image courtesy of LumaxArt)

"Everyone always wants some new things. Everyone likes new inventions, new technology. People will never be replaced by machines. In the end, life and business are about human connections."

Michael Scott, The Office

With the evolution of technology today, it's very easy to get lost in all the "noise" of the Internet superhighway. Right now, there is a lot of hype out there about social media and its usage regarding platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.

With all the hype and talk about social media, it's very easy to get confused and "lost" in what its true value can bring. Social media is a tool that can help build your business. Notice I said "tool," not substitute.

A lot of people are under the impression that social media is a substitute for doing business - it's not. There is no substitute for good old fashioned networking - human interaction face to face and/or via the telephone.

Sure, you can network with people online and build a great Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. following. However, when it comes down to doing business you have to ask yourself the question - Is this really helping you and your business get to your goals? If it's not, then you have to change gears.

So many times, I get folks telling me they can't find any deals. They tell me they've been looking and looking and can't find any mobile homes for $3,000. They tell me they've been looking in the newspaper, been driving around their area looking in parks and surrounding neighborhoods, online websites, etc. But, for some reason they still can't find a deal.

Well, I'm here to tell you - you won't find a deal advertised in the local paper and/or online. It just doesen't work that way. Deals are made through negotiating - not through advertisements. Probably every single one of my deals, the seller started at full retail price. Let's face it - most people start there because no one wants to get ripped off. It's just human nature.

Where the deals come in through negotiations is really getting to the root of the problem(s) of the seller and getting to know each other by creating win/win situations. When I meet a seller, I have a very casual approach. I do not do any hard selling at all. I let the seller talk. I listen and see what exactly the seller wants to do and why they want to do it. It's that simple.

Ok, so if it's that simple - how come it's so hard for people to make deals? The reason it's hard for people to make deals is because they come across to the sellers like they just don't care. How is this?

Well, most investors come off as "vultures" because they try to do all the talking and tell the seller what they should do - tell the seller what their home is worth and what they can expect them to sell it for. Then they go on and try to scare the seller saying that no one's going to buy their house for that price. This is a big turn off for sellers.

Let's face it - no one likes to be bossed around. If someone pushes, we push back. It's just human nature. This is why it's hard for most investors to make deals - it seems like they just don't care. So, what happens is the few who do make the deals come out the winners because they are the ones who demonstrate to the seller that they do care. And, if someone shows that they care for you - they will in turn care for you back. It's just human nature.

Right now, I'm working with a park - the park manager is basically kicking out all of the investors who bring bad business to the park. What's happening is these investors just let anyone into their mobile homes and don't really take into any consideration of the park and the obligation to pay lot rent.

Their attitude is they really don't care if their buyers and/or tenants don't pay lot rent - all they care about is getting their own payment and/or rent. I was actually in the office hanging out with the manager one day when a tenant came into the office. She told the manager that she just couldn't pay the lot rent and that the investor who owner financed her home told her she doesen't have to pay lot rent as long as she pays the mobile home payment she's ok. The park manager blew up and got really mad.

So, now the park manager is asking these investors to leave her park. They will have the option of either moving their homes (with their buyers and/or tenants) or they will have to sell their homes. (Note: This has been a concern for many people wanting to get into mobile home investing. Yes, I have heard of other investors who have been kicked out of parks and it's a possibility if you bring bad business to the park. For me, I bring good business to the parks and find quality, long term tenants. In fact, the park manager and owners want me to keep doing business in their parks. As long as their lot rents are getting paid, they are happy).

In addition, I'm also working with the park manager for some of the park owned homes as well as some of the bank owned homes in the park. For most parks, they just want their lot rent paid. Doing owner finance mobile home deals is not their forte. So, what happens is they may have to do them because they get stuck with some of these homes and they end up going bad. They would rather work with someone who knows how to fill homes with good quality buyers and/or tenants than have to fill them themselves.

So, you see - it's all about human interaction and creating win/win situations for all. Most investors out there are out to create win/lose situations. Sure, they may be able to snag a deal or two but they won't last for long.

As Seth Godin points out, the only way you can get people to do business with you is to have them talk about you. No amount of advertising and marketing can change the way people see you. If you build your business with an honest reputation of helping people and creating win/win situations, people will spread the word and refer others to you. It's as simple as that.

The reality is most investors put dollars before people. When you put money before anything else, you will lose. You will lose out on deals, long term relationships and you will lose out on business. Money is just short term.

Building relationships and a reputation for being honest and helping people is long term. In the end, business involves people. And, people never go out of business.

I'm going to leave you here with a video from Gary Vaynerchuk that inspired this post.

Happy Investing!

(If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more about negotiating, check out these books. Enjoy!)

Video Link

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