There’s always something to howl about

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Want to increase business? Answer your phone

Do you want to sell your listing faster and for more money?  Answer your phone

Do you want to work with more buyers?  Answer your phone

Lenders, do you want more loan business from agents?  Answer your phone

I know this sounds simplistic but more sales are made on the phone then are made via text or email.  This year, I made a conscious effort to ANSWER every phone call which come in.  I even bought a contraption which charges my phone and puts the calls on the car speakers.  The connection sucks but it allows me to acknowlege whomever called and to “triage” why they are calling.  If it’s a “money” call, I tell them that I will pull off the freeway and call them in a matter of minutes.  If it’s something to do with something other than work, I ask them to send me a text so I can call them later.

It doesn’t always work.  Sometimes, I’m a in a meeting and can’t answer the phone but by changing my mindset to believing that every single phone call represents a five-figure check, I am conditioned to sell.

Most importantly, our high tech culture has made incoming phone calls a “nuisance’ to many people.  if you are on the dialing end of the phone call, a voicemail or text, instead of an answer, tells you that you just might be bothering someone.  If you call me, I try to make you the most important person in the world.

You ARE the most important person in the world because you are the one paying my bills.  So call me at 858-777-9751

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Real Estate Auctions: Not Just For Foreclosures Anymore

Two years ago, I started paying MLS, NAR, CA, and SDAR dues.  Since my wife Debra was taking on more of the lending responsibilities, I spent the bulk of my time working with the real estate agents.  Having MLS access allowed me to hold broker opens for my agents, hold open houses for their listings, and act as a de facto “buyer’s agent” for them when they were out of town.

I had a few “orphan” clients and, in the past 30 months,  I represented about a dozen buyers and listed and sold two properties as a real estate agent.  It’s not something I love but understanding the brokerage side of the business enhanced our knowledge as lenders.  We understand contracts, deadlines, contingencies, and conversations with our agent clients better.  Throwing mom and dad in the station wagon, showing homes, writing offers, meeting property inspectors, negotiating repairs, and closing deals has made us better lenders so I’m grateful for the experience.

Eight years ago, a local hedge fund type started an online real estate auction site.  I wrote about it here and was tangentially involved but it never really took off.  I think it was more because of the online component and less of the auction component.  Generally speaking, when tech types and hedge fund guys try to disinternediate the local brokerage, they lose.  Greg wrote about the next flop yesterday.

I have always been intrigued with auctions so it shouldn’t surprise you that I have followed Harcourts, the New Zealand real estate brokerage’s entry into the Southern California market.  Harcourts has been holding non-distressed auctions for two years now with tepid results.  I had a few thoughts about why its results are mediocre so I started to form a new firm; California House Auctions.

We are a vendor.  We have an exclusive agreement with one of the top auctioneers in California.  He’s held over 600 auctions in the past thirty years and is well known in the community.  We’ll be helping ANY real estate brokerage to sell their (non-distressed) listing through a live auction.  We’ll charge a fee for each successful auction (paid at close of escrow to a licensed real estate brokerage).

I am still slogging through some legal and licensing stuff but we should hold our first auction later this month.

That’s my latest scheme and I hope to get your input as we progress.  We think this could be a great way to sell non-distressed properties and we think the live auction on the front lawn will help our brokerage clients earn more listings from the neighbors.

I’m thrilled we kickstarted RE.net2.0 and can’t wait to see what all of you have been doing these past five years

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Here’s a preview of what I have in my mind :

1- Facebook ads (as an agent)
2- Value-added services for real estate agents (as a lender)
3- Non-distressed auctions for real estate brokerages (as a vendor)

I have posted a few things since the content slow down on Bloodhound Blog but a lot has happened since 2012-ish.  The market has recovered nicely and most of the contributors are probably too busy listing, showing or financing property to write.  Bloodhound Blog was on the cutting edge of the  provocative, hard-hitting, curious, and innovative.

Let’s start howling again

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Four Tips To Supercharge Your Real Estate Brokerage Business

Most real estate agents want two things:  more money and more time off.  The challenge is that they are doing things that (a) are not dollar productive and (b) are time consuming.  Add in more regulatory burdens, market shifts, and industry participants which are staffed by people who are incompetent, lazy, and/or stupid and it makes an agent’s goals harder and harder to reach.

Don’t let this gloomy scenario bring you down.  Here are four action-oriented things, agents can do right away, which have built empires, created wealth, and sparked business revolutions.

1-  Own everything about your business.  You are responsible for EVERYTHING even if it’s “not your job”.  We live in a world where any question can be answered by a smart phone and still I hear agents get confused about where to find answers.  Your broker isn’t calling you back with an answer to that question?  Ask Siri the question and read a few of the thousands of answers offered, by other brokers, on Trulia, Google, and Zillow.  The lender seems stuck?  Call a well-rated lender and get another opinion.

Stop bitching about problems you can’t control and fix them anyway.

You are the captain of your ship.  If the crew screws up and the ship runs aground, the captain is fired.  Your client doesn’t care about the lender, your broker, your transaction coordinator or the seller/buyer.  They want action and they hired you to get it for them.  Own everything.

2- Surround yourself with congruent rather than competent people.  It’s not enough to have a great lender, proficient escrow officer, and proactive transaction coordinator.  You must have people working with you who are on board with your goals.  If your goals is to make more money and save more time, you need to focus on dollar productive activities so you want affiliates who have suggested solutions to problems when they call with problems.  A lender should call you and say “we ran into a problem but this is how I will fix it”.   The escrow officer should be thinking about chasing down your client for signatures rather than emailing you.  The TC should call your client before calling you.  Competent brokers, TCs, lenders, and escrow companies are basically fungible.  Congruent affiliates are something special.  Find and keep them.

3- Make marketing your number one priority.  I need to repeat this one because it’s the most important one; make marketing your number one priority.  The single most important function, to a well-oiled, profit producing brokerage practice is lead generation.

Lead generation has to be the first thing you do in the morning.  If you have nothing going on. pick a listing from the MLS and try to sell it to your contacts.  For example, find a home in a hot market in your town (in my market, that would be Cardiff-by-the-Sea).  Pick one which is fairly new to market.  Start by calling people you have sold to in that zip code then work your way out to clients who have bought within 10 miles of that zip code.  After that, call everyone you know who lives or works in that zip code then work your way out to people who live and work within ten miles of that zip code.  Call them and ask one question:

“Do you know anyone looking to buy a home in XXX?  I found a great deal for them if they are.”

Make 25 calls tomorrow and ask that question 15 times and I think you’ll find 1-2 prospective clients.  Sure, the home will probably be sold out from under you but you will generate a list of potential buyers for the NEXT hot listing which appears in that zip code.  Your contacts won’t hate you for that call because they know that XXX is a “hot market” (especially if they live there).  They will probably think that you are an agent who closes deals.

4. Sell smarter and you won’t be selling.  It’s not enough to get a name and number from your IDX website– you need so much more information and advantage when you call a potential client.  When I receive a referral, or lead, or just a name and phone number from a website, I spend more time researching them than I do on the phone with them.  When I finally DO call that name, I usually know what they do for work, where they live, and who our mutual friends are.  I research them.  Let me give you an example by using fellow Bloodhound (whom I really don’t know):

Assume a San Diego agent called me and said he was going to represent this Bloodhound in a purchase of a Carlsbad home–all I have is a name and phone number.  The first thing I do is find the prospect on LinkedIn.  Here, I learn where he graduated college and that he served as an Army officer so I’ll be talking about why he should use his VA benefit…. even if he THINKS it isn’t for him.   I am going to have a financing comparison ready for him so I can show him the math behind my recommendations.   If the prospect knows the PROCESS I use, he is going to trust my recommendations.  If I find the prospect on Facebook, I will know that we don’t share the same taste in football teams, probably share the same politics, and do share the same affection for Tarantino movies.

My initial call is going to start like this:  “Hi, this is Brian Brady and (agent name) asked me to call you about a loan for a home in Carlsbad.  He didn’t tell me that you are VA-eligible, you were in the Army?”  As we talk, I’m going to ask him if his commissioning source was ROTC (he will tell me about his college days and I’ll talk NCAA hoops with him).  If all goes as I think it will, I’ll tell him about my involvement in San Diego politics and invite him to meet his new Congressman when he moves here.  I will close by telling him to open the financing comparison I created for him and review why I like VA better than conventional for a jumbo loan.

I imagine the perfect introductory call, prepare for it, and make my time on the phone with the prospective client count.  Preparation = higher closing ratios.

Let’s review these four ideas in reverse:  (1) Be prepared for every opportunity to gain a new client so that the call is “perfect” every single time  (2) spend most of your time generating new business  (3) make sure your affiliates are not only competent but congruent with your goals. and (4) be responsible for your own success.

The market may shift soon and business will SEEM tougher.   If you implement these four practices today, 2018 won’t seem as difficult as it is for the other agents in your market.

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Getting a San Diego Condo VA-Approved Adds Value To Service Members

Debra Brady and I are experts at VA-financing.  One of the things we do very well is secure a VA condo complex approval for condominiums which aren’t agency approved.  Some comments from a recent YELP review:

I started the home buying process while still on deployment, and Brian graciously worked with me across 13 time zones to begin explaining the ins and outs of home buying.

This is actually kind of fun for me.  With technology, deployed service members can communicate with me well in advance of buying.  Many times, when deployed,  they have free time with little to do.  They use Gchat, Facebook Messenger, Skype, and email to communicate with me.  Sometimes it makes for some weird hours but I enjoy finally meeting them when they return to the States.

I googled VA home approval, and his was the first name to pop up.  Brian is an absolute master at working with the VA.

That’s what I love to hear–that we come up first on Google Search for this topic.

Brian took my wife and I out for cocktails to explain in person the different loan rates and explain the decision making process for each of them, and Debra worked like a fiend to make sure thinks were done WELL ahead of time.

This is how Debra and I work.  I spend most of my time “selling” real estate agents and educating clients and Debra gets the loan done.  When we’re clicking properly, I am “Mr. Outside” and she is “Mrs. Inside”.  Clients know that she is in the office, every day from 8AM until 230PM each day and available on the telephone.  This frees me up to: (a) find more business for us and (b) properly educate home buyers about the process.  We pride ourselves on “no surprises” during the loan process.

To any Servicemembers who are interested in using their VA loan option, look no further than Brian, he is THE expert who will get you into the place you want.

That’s what I hope to hear on every VA loan we close.  It doesn’t ALWAYS happen but, I’m proud to say, it does happen more often than not.

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Most Creative Loans We Funded in 2013

1- We funded a $900,000 Orange County purchase with just 6.5% down payment and no mortgage insurance

2- We funded an Orange County condo, with a VA loan, and got both the Master Association and Condo Association VA approved in 30 days

3- We funded a $600,000 San Diego County purchase, with just 5% down payment and a seller-carry back second mortgage and a conventional first mortgage.

4- We funded a 7-unit San Diego apartment property, $820,000 purchase price with just 10% down and a 20% seller-carry back second mortgage.

5- We funded an “underwater” property with loan values at 135% of the appraised value in Los Angeles County.


If the condominum is not VA-approved, how do I get a VA home loan offer accepted?

Many veterans in California purchase properties which are classified as condominiums.  Some are large complexes, with professional HOA management, some are small complexes (under 6 units) with no monthly HOA fee and an informal cost-sharing agreement, and some are townhomes.  All share on thing in common–they are listed on the county records as a condominium.  This, the VA loan can not be funded until the condominium complex is approved.

The Southern California market has shifted, seemingly overnight from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market.  Many listing agents are presenting multiple offers to sellers.  Sadly, sellers leave some money on the table because the best offer is one using a VA home loan.  The sellers believe that the VA home loan can not be used because the condominium complex does not have a VA approval.

Buyer’s agents jobs then, are to present the VA offer with an eye towards minimizing the risk associated with it.

First, the buyer’s agent would do well to present documentation which demonstrates that the veteran is a strong buyer.  Some successful agents go so far to present my automated underwriting findings along with asset and income documentation (with the veteran’s permission, of course).  Demonstrating that the veteran has the credit, income, and asset requirements, to be approved for the loan amount, shows that the veteran is “bankable”.

Second, the buyer’s agent might address the three common concerns, sellers have with VA loans in the cover letter.  The cover letter should highlight that the veteran earned the no-down payment loan as compensation for his or her service to our country.  I sometimes call this “wrapping the offer in the flag” and the buyer’s agent should not be shy about doing it.  If the veteran served overseas, highlight it. If the veteran earned a distinctive award, highlight it.

The buyer’s agent should be clear about whether the seller is being asked to pay for the VA non-allowable costs and specify the dollar amount.  If the offer does not include seller-paid costs, the letter should state who is paying for those costs (usually the lender) and reference the section in the offer which states that.  I generally recommend that agents use this language

“VA non-allowable costs to be  paid by lender.  Seller not required to pay any of the veteran’s non-allowable closing costs”

The buyer’s agent should discuss the condominium approval process in the cover letter, too.  The lender’s name, email, and number should be included, along with 2-3 references who can confirm that the lender knows how to get the complex VA-approved.    This point is important.  The lender should be able to demonstrate proficiency in the complex approval complex and should state that the appraisal can be ordered before the complex is approved.  Not all lenders will do this.  Many lenders state that the complex has to be approved prior to ordering the appraisal–that just ain’t so.  The loan can be processed, underwritten, and approved before the complex approval comes in.  Ultimately, the lender should have a full approval with one condition remaining; the complex approval.

Finally, the buyer’s agent should confidently present the VA Amendatory Clause with the offer.  The VA Amendatory Clause is nothing to hide.  Sellers should understand that the appraisal will be performed conditioned upon the complex approval.  Ultimately, that means that the veteran buyer’s deposit is refundable if the complex can’t be approved.  If the buyer is bearing the cost of the attorney opinion letter, that should be disclosed as well–it shows that the veterans has “skin in the game” and a vested interest in a quick closing.

VA home loans are a great tool for buyers who have served our country.  Sellers can get top-dollar for their properties if they address the “risks” a VA offer might present, have a game plan for how to mitigate those risks, and help the agents, veteran, and lender to close the loan quickly.  Communication is key to a successful VA home loan transaction and that communication starts with a prepared buyer’s agent.


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Can Bernanke Keep Mortgage Rates This Low Into 2015?

I’ve been a vocal critic of Ben Bernanke.  I thought his Quantitative Easing schemes would eventually create a bubble in the Treasury and mortgage-bond markets.  Bernanke has committed to keeping rates low for another 18-24 months.

I was wrong.  I violated the first rule of market prognostication (from the late Marty Zweig):  Don’t Fight the Fed

Let me give you some background.  Mortgage rates are driven by the secondary market (which is a fancy word for bond buyers on Wall Street).  I offered an abbreviated history of secondary mortgage marketing , six years ago, here on Bloodhound Blog.  Essentially it works like this:

  • Home buyer applies for a loan with a mortgage originator
  • Originator processes the loan for submission to a lender
  • Lender underwrites the loan to agency guidelines (FHA, FNMA, FHLMC, VA)
  • Lender funds the loan
  • Lender secures guaranty from agency
  • Lender retains servicing rights but assigns rights to principal and interest to an investment bank
  • Investment bank packages loans in a pool, carves up the pool into bonds, and sells them to individual investors

Two things are important in secondary marketing:  the agency guaranty and the ability to sell the bonds.  The agency guaranty offers a sense of security to the investors and the demand for the bonds must be there.  When I thought rates would rise, because of runaway inflation, I posited the the Federal Reserve Bank’s power was quickly deteriorating.  What I hadn’t anticipated was that central banks, all over the word, were in even worse shape.  The Fed might be ugly but she’s the prettiest gal at the dance.

Last month, I asked Alan Nevin, economist with the London Group, “What if the buyers run away?”  To which, he replied, “Where will they go?”.

This is not a pollyannish answer.  Where WILL investors go?  I offered these options:  Hong Kong, Australia,  and Canada

Then it hit me–the world wide capital market is huge and the options for capital investment are limited.  Imagine the global capital market as a 64-gallon trash can.  The Hong Kong, Australian, and Canadian bond markets are like a shot glass, a pint bottle, and a quart can.  Even if you tried to dump all that trash into those three little receptacles, you’d have at least 63 gallons of trash which needed a landfill.

The domestic treasury and mortgage-backed securities markets are that landfill—a great place to dump all of that trash.  Maybe Hong Kong, Australia, and Canada can pull some capital away from the domestic bond markets but The Fed-controlled landfill is still a good place for investment.  For now…





There is no real estate inventory problem in Oceanside, CA

How often had you heard real estate agents complain about “the inventory problem” this past year?  I used to think their complaints were farcical until these past 3-4 months.  I have about a dozen pre-approved buyers out looking for homes.  Interest rates are low and the foreclosures are getting snapped up as soon as they hit the market.  Not one of those dozen has been able to get an accepted offer since Labor Day, 2012.

Clearly, there must be an inventory problem. 

It’s time to change gears real estate agents.  A few years back, I suggested that buyers would be controlling the market and the listings side of the business should be de-emphasized.  All the properties being offered were short sales or foreclosures.  Paperwork-intensive transactions didn’t sound so appealing to me and I recommended that agents focus all their efforts on finding buyers and getting them into contracts.  Those who followed such advice didn’t get rich but earned a darned good living these past few years.

I had breakfast this morning with Mr. Oceanside, Don Reedy.  We discussed the local market and “the inventory problem” when it hit me; there is no shortage of homes.  In Oceanside alone, there are thousands of home owners, with equity, who can sell their properties to ready and willing home buyers.  This offers the ambitious real estate agent a great opportunity.  Too often, real estate agents (and loan originators) forget that we are paid to add value to transactions.  If we’re simply acting as gatekeepers, we are no different from everyone else.  We need to “create personal inventory”–find sellers for the buyers who want their homes.

Here is my ten- step plan for real estate agents, for a great 2013…with PLENTY of “personal” inventory:

  1. Attend your local caravan meeting each week.  Pay close attention to the agents who speak during the “buyers’ needs” segment.
    Call a dozen local agents weekly who work with buyers.  Find out where the inventory problem is.  At this point, you will see a glaring opportunity in your town/market area.  If you know that those agents have 2-3 buyers, for a certain price range, in a certain area, you have identified “half” a market.
  2. Look at the property tax records in the “problem” subdivision.  Choose only properties with owner’s equity.  Generally speaking, you’ll look for homes bought prior to 2006 or in 2010.  If you’re doing a search with the local title company, and you know the homes are worth $350,000-$400,000, you could also search for sales which had recorded mortgages under $250,000 (that can eliminate a lot of problems).  Compile a lit of potential “equity sellers”.
  3. Visit those equity sellers on a Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon.  Don’t mail them.  Don’t call them.  Don’t email them.  Bang on their door and tell them that you KNOW where 2-3 willing buyers of their property are.  Ask to meet with them to discuss the idea of “equity transfer” to different property.
  4. Meet the now interested seller and explain that, when they look at their original mortgage payment (before they refinanced), and add the expected equity from the sale of their home, they might be able to buy a “better” (bigger, nicer, closer to work) home.  It might be useful to have some listings printed out, in the “better” homes’ price range, to whet their appetite.  Recommend that they speak with America’s #1 mortgage broker, to get pre-qualified for the “equity transfer” program, with mortgage payments which were equal to their original (before they refinanced) payment.  Schedule a follow-up visit and tell them you’ll have the mortgage broker call them in the morning.
  5. Speak with the agents who have willing buyers for the home.  Verify that they are still in the market and that you might have a property about to hit the MLS.  Explain that you’ll give them a “heads up”, right after the listing agreement is signed, and tell them that you’ll let their buyers “preview” the property the day the listing is entered into the MLS.  Estimate when you think that will be.
  6. At the follow up visit to the interested seller, start the meeting off by showing them the available inventory for the pre-approved amount (you’ll have a pre-approval letter from the mortgage broker).  Sell the fact that you are transferring the equity from the existing property.  If they seem excited, offer to list thee property for 30 days only.  Explain that this market is a bit of an anomaly and, if you can’t get them the price they need, to affect the “equity transfer” in 30 days, it may not make sense to sell at that time.  Have the seller sign a 30-day listing agreement along with a 60-day buyer’s brokerage agreement.
  7. Instruct them to be out of the property from 2PM-7PM on the next Friday and out of the property from 1PM-4PM on the next Saturday.  Schedule time to review offers, at 6PM on that Sunday evening.
  8. Plan to enter the listing into the MLS on Friday morning (or late Thursday night).  Schedule an open house for that Saturday.  Call the agents with buyers, and instruct them to schedule a showing on that Friday (from 2:30PM until 6PM).  Tell those agents you plan to hold it open that Saturday and that quick offers are the wisest policy.  Explain that you expect to be presenting offers all day Sunday.
  9. Find your seller a new home.  Collect commission checks for adding real value to a lopsided market.  Celebrate.
  10. Repeat.

It really is that simple.  If there are more buyers than sellers in a market, find more sellers.



Slugging Away. One E-mail Address At A Time

I’m on a quest to find 75 San Diego real estate agents.  I need 75 agents, to give me permission, to e-mail them weekly.  I told you about my plan to secure those permissions and I thought I’d update you as I get results.

Bill Lyons agreed to do a joint marketing deal with me but I haven’t taken him up on that yet.  I’ve been scrambling around with year-end stuff, and I took a holiday trip to Arizona, but I’ll do something with Bill next year. For now, I’m focused on the SDAR Officers’ Installation and Dinner as a magnet.

I held a drawing at the Downtown San Diego caravan.  Thirty agents gave me their cards and Debbie Neuman won the tickets.  This works pretty well because while she is a quality agent, with established lending relationships, she’ll sit at my table that night.  This will be a good chance to get to know her and pitch ourselves as her “number two lender” (I’m not proud).    The challenge with the thirty “new” contacts has been securing permission to e-mail them..  I have spoken with ten agents thus far and only five agreed to receive my newsletter.  I do have a drawing scheduled at the La Jolla REBA, next week. and those folks know me better.  I guess if I have 25-30 permissions, by next Friday, I can celebrate the fact that I have achieved one-third of my goal.

That means I’m going to have to grit it out for the final fifty permissions.  I’m going to start the “open house plan” after the first of the year.  The plan is to visit open houses and drop off a “care basket”, filled with snacks.  Agents get hungry at open houses so this is what I’ll give them:

A couple of bottles of water, three bags of snacks, and a couple of oranges (or apples, or bananas).

I’ll assemble them in my newly delivered TANSTAAFL lunch bags.  I ordered these from and 100 of them cost me less than $300.

I had my name, website, and phone number imprinted on them, along with the word TANSTAAFL.  The idea is that I can call later and play on the “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” idea and secure permission to email them.

The front pouch holds 20-25 business cards in it.  Agents can hand these to buyers,

I don’t LOVE the lunch bags.  They aren’t the best quality and I doubt they’ll be brought to the beach.  Agents could use them to keep a lunch and water cold so I’m hoping they keep these for future open houses.  Notwithstanding, I’ll spend $3-5 to be memorable to an agent and these bags are bright.  I think they make a cool statement too.  I’m pretty sure they will remember who I am when I call to follow-up.

Retail selling is a grind.  I’m always looking for short cuts, to make my marketing efforts scalable, but sometimes the one-off selling situation cements the relationship more easily than large numbers.  As always, your feedback and suggestions are appreciated.


Who else wants some cheap and easy ways, to generate more purchase business from REALTORS?

I cleaned up my e-mail database this week and was pretty surprised.  The lion’s share of our business comes from real estate agents.  Many times, I don’t speak with nor hear from an agent for 5-6 months…then…WHAM—I get a loan call.  That call always seems to come within two weeks of one of my email newsletters.  I understand my numbers pretty well:

  • for every California agent, in my database, it results in .6 purchase loans/year
  • over 75% of that business comes from agents, in the database, who open at least 50% of my emails (that comprises just 20% of the total number)

Last year, I cleaned up the data base.  I whittled the number down to 70 agents.  15 of those agents accounted for 32 purchase loans and 55 agents accounted for 11 purchase loans.  If I want to close 72 purchase loans in 2012, I probably need 30 agents, who open at least 50% of my emails.  To add those extra 15 agents, I need to meet and add some 75 NEW agents to the database…pretty quickly.

I broke down the content offered, too:

  • the highest click-through ratio (55%) came from marketing ideas
  • mortgage tips (like how to get a VA offer accepted) generated a 35% click-through
  • mortgage rates reports were largely unread (10% click-through)

Agents want to hear how to get more business and then, how to do business properly.  Agents just don’t care about mortgage rates.  I’ll stop writing those onerous mortgage rates reports (nobody’s reading them and, because their time sensitive, they are more of a short-head).  I will start adding marketing ideas to my blog, then use those blog posts for my email newsletter content.

Here’s what I did last night:

  • I created a new list, of the serial readers, and named it the “top-gun file”.  I’ll add new agents there, check it every 90 days, and move the agents, who are not opening 50% of my emails, to the “general agents” list.
  • I pre-loaded weekly emails, for the “top-gun file”, out to April 15, 2012.  I want to insure consistency
  • The “general agents” file will get a bi-weekly marketing idea.  I pre-loaded that content, out to April 15, 2012.

Now I have to “find” 75 new agents, pretty darned quickly.  All I have to do is to secure permission to email them weekly.  I always tell them that if it annoys them, they can unsubscribe and some do.  Most just stop reading.  Almost every agent I meet gives me that permission so let’s just say I have to meet 100 agents to secure the permission from the 75 I need. Here are some ideas I have to meet those agents:

Agents who hold open houses talk to buyers.  Agents who hold open houses get bored at those open houses.  I had 100 “customized lunch boxes” printed, with my name, website, phone number, and a message (TANSTAAFL) on it.  I’m going to go to Costco and fill these lunch boxes with a couple of 7-oz water bottles, a bag of pretzels, a bag of peanut-butter crackers, and an apple.    I’ll put a bunch of cards in the front pocket, along with a couple of articles about mortgage financing.  Then, I’ll deliver them to agents holding open houses, pick up their card, and call them a few days later to see how they liked the lunch box.  I’m hoping they’ll ask what TANSTAFFL means so I can transition to the question about receiving my weekly email newsletter.

I attend the weekly pitch sessions and caravan for La Jolla Real Estate Brokers Association and have been invited to the Downtown San Diego pitch session and caravan, too.  I’m sponsoring a table for the SDAR Officers’ installation dinner, next month.  I figure that I can raffle off 2 tickets to the dinner.  Each “entry” will be a business card (and permission to e-mail), at each of those.  I might be able to partner up with an agent, who is holding a listing open on caravan, and hold the raffle there while exchanging my TANSTAFFL lunch bags for the business card (and permission to e-mail).

I could probably do a cross-promotion with Bill Lyons of Revestor.  I can ask him to “donate” a couple of 90-day “free zip codes” certificates, in addition the 90 day trial he offers (I just gave you a link, Bill so consider that when I ask you).  I can also ask him to announce our “joint raffle” to the real estate agents in his database, and have them “enter” online.  I should have two extra dinners to contribute to that separate raffle.

Consistency has always been my major challenge; I think I have that fixed until at least April 15, 2012.  I think I have a handle on which content “makes the frog jump”.  My other challenge is adding emails of quality agents…quickly.  Any critique of my current plan or ideas you might have is appreciated.

19 comments is live now. searches current listings by cash flow and capitalization rate.

I received an email, from BHB Anaheim presenter Bill Lyons, that is live now and will be announced to the public tomorrow.  Bill knows that the Bloodhound way is to fly under the radar, sneak in the back door, and quietly win so I appreciate the chance to break the news. is a new property search site.  It’s unique proposition is that it allows users to search by either capitalization rate or cash flow.  Revestor believes it will become a useful tool for both investors and primary residence home buyers.  Bill Lyons suggested that its unique ranking display, offers data to a home buyer, which is currently unavailable.  Incorporating the income potential of a property offers another valuation model for home buyers to consider.

I ran a search for an area with which I’m familiar; Oceanside, CA  zip code 92056.  I searched for properties listed from $150,000 to $250,000, by cash flow, and ten current listings were displayed.  The top two listings appealed to me:

3906 Marvin –  a 3BR 2BA, 1064 s.f. SFD with $902 of free cash flow, with an 80% LTV loan, listed at $169, 767

3132 Glenn –  a 4BR 2BA, 1302 s.f. SFD with $533 of free cash flow, with an 80% LTV loan, listed at 249,900

Revestor offers a “launch” blog post and I’ll insert Bill’s comments from there (italicized), as I offer my ideas  here.

Here is what I like about the site:  I like the map display of the listings and I love the fact that it ranks the listings by investment potential.  The financial data offered, on individual listings, is pretty comprehensive.  It drills down on expense data and allows the user to customize it.  The mortgage data is cool because it allows you to slide the down payment tool and see real-time figures.  The exit strategy information is unique but I’m unclear as to how they determine the potential resale value.

Bill offered:  While San Diego is just a starting point we are still very much a “work in progress“. The site is not perfect (especially for a perfectionist that is striving for simplicity). We launched with about 75% of the functionality/capability that we wanted to, but hey, we were anxious to bring about change.

Here is what I think needs improvement:  It’s only available for San Diego County right now.  That works fine for me but, as I’m sure the management of Revestor,com knows, that ain’t gonna fly if they intend to be a player.  I’m unclear as to the accuracy of the rental rates.  I thought the data look pretty high but I haven’t seen a property lease, in that zip code, for over a year now.  The individual property listing display page seems kind of boring with incomplete MLS listing data but the financial data exceeds my expectations.  Finally, the mortgage information is not “live” yet and a tad too ambitious.  That should improve as they secure live mortgage feeds.

Bill offered: We will be the first to admit our ‘estimated rent’ and our algorithm are not 100% accurate. Over time (as the algorithm recognizes patterns in our database and our users give feedback it WILL gain more intelligence and get very close!). At this point, Revestor is not an end all be all, but rather a pre-due diligence tool. You certainly aren’t going to call up your real estate agent and say “buy 1234 Main St – now!” without doing any additional research but it sure is going to give you a good place to start

All in all, Revestor,com is a great tool with a limited reach.  Tomorrow, it works for San Diego County agents and home buyers,  If Revestor,com wants to last past their cash burn rate, it is going to have to add new markets…quickly.  I’ve know Bill for five years now and I’ve seen him build profitable businesses pretty quickly.  If I had to bet on on a horse race, I’d bet on the Lyon.  Give Bill your feedback and don’t be too kind. He’s a big boy who can handle constructive criticism.


Lower VA funding fees, as of November 18, 2011, attract year-end veteran buyers

N.B:  On the day before I published this, HR 674 passed, reverting the funding fee amounts to the “old” levels.  It was updated in VA Circular 26-11-19, published November 22, 2011.  The “new” lower funding fee schedule was in effect for three days, from Nov 18-21.  Sorry for the confusion.

Home buying became a bunch cheaper for eligible veterans.  On November 18, 2011, the VA lowered the amount it charges veteran borrowers, for the VA loan guaranty.  Rather than charge private mortgage insurance (PMI), like conventional loans do, or a combination of an upfront mortgage insurance premium (UFMIP) and a monthly insurance premium (MIP), like the FHA does, the VA relies on a one-time charge, which can be financed, called a funding fee.

The VA looks at a service member’s life cycle and tailors the funding fee to meet his/her expected abilities to finance a home.  For example, a first-time home buyer pays a funding fee of 1.4% of the loan amount, for a zero-down loan.  The VA expects that service member to have some equity for his/her second home purchase so, should the veteran choose to buy “no-money-down”, on a subsequent purchase, the VA funding fee is double, or 2.8% of the loan amount.

Veterans who put down 5% of the purchase price are only charged .75% of the loan amount.  Veterans who put down 10% of the purchase price are only charged .5% of the purchase price.  All refinance transactions, including the no-income qualification and no appraisal needed, refinance transaction, otherwise known as the VA Interest Rate Reduction Loan (IRRL), are charged .5% of the refinanced loan.

A full table, of the new VA funding fee amounts, can be found on Mortgage Rates Report.


Blessed Are The Implementers, For They Will Inherit the Moniker “Unchained”

I caught up on some much needed sleep yesterday, after the fifth BloodhoundBlog Unchained Conference, held in Anaheim, CA.  It is my hope that my partner Greg Swann celebrates his birthday, in relaxation and Splendor, before pondering the future of these conferences.  As the Godfather of the Unchained movement, Greg argued that the title of these conferences be “Unchained” rather than the “Unleashed” title I offered.  What Greg knew, and I understand now, is that Unchained suggests that the Bloodhound was never enslaved while unleashed suggests prior submission.

If you missed our show in Anaheim, you missed the proof in the pudding.  I’ll give you an overview:

Greg Swann led us off with a demonstration of his Chinese army; software which creates tens of thousands of unique webpages, with granular listing data.  Greg showed us how he can close the publishing gap, in less than an hour each week.  Greg continually invents new and exciting software, to stay one step ahead of the market competitors, who would try tho chain him.

Scott Schang came to Unchained 2008 on, how he has described it, “his final few bucks”.  He took the ideas offered there, implemented them here, and created a business which employs a half-dozen people.  He shared his online business plan, his accomplishments and mistakes, and how he overcame market changes to stay relevant in the consumers’ eyes.  From borrowed bus fare to accomplished entrepreneur, in 40 months, Scott has a database of willing home buyers, numbering in the five figures—Scott is Unchained.

Brian Summerfield, of the National Association of Realtors, came to take some body blows from the crew.  It was his motivation which impressed me; he transparently announced that he came to address us because he wants content for .  Mr. Summerfield invites constructive criticism of NAR on its forum.  Contact him if you have an opinion to offer.

Bill Lyons, a serial entrepreneur, shared his latest creation for consumers, . offers investors an IDX search with rental data.  Home buyers can search listings by net cash flow or capitalization rate. is expected to be released right before Thanksgiving.

Mark Madsen and Tony Sena reflect their Vegas heritage well.  Never content to seek the chains of employment, the pair created as a business community alternative to  That site inspired the wildly successful group blog, where Mark assembles some of the greatest mortgage minds across the country.  Mark and Tony attended Unchained 2009,  learned some valuable information and made invaluable contacts, to launch their latest venture, Shelter Realty.  Their presentation chronicled the steps they took to make this new business a force in the SERPs.  Both gentlemen embody the Unchained spirit.

Eric Blackwell knows search engine optimization.  When we first met Eric, at Unchained Orlando, he was toiling away for a Louisville brokerage.  The contacts he made, along with some salesmanship skills he learned, set Eric up for the challenge of entrepreneurship.  Eric overcame a health scare to launch his own SEO consultancy; Eric on Search.  Today, Eric helps regional brokerages and high-producing agents, dominate the SERPS in their region.  While Eric is certainly the “rock star” of Unchained, he also demonstrated some of the things he learned, to wear the Unchained moniker.

Trudy Smit was an Unchained first-timer and shared her project, Loan Interchange, an online marketing platform for loan origination and secondary notes marketing.  Her technology offers notes investors and opportunity to buy and sell, in a centralized location where participants are vetted.

Finally, I led an ill-prepared session on email marketing.  I intended to share my video e-mail marketing campaigns, which helped me to achieve a higher conversion rate, but the hotel internet was too slow for a good performance.  Good entrepreneurs however, have plans– and contingent plans. Business never pans out the way you think it will so you must anticipate the problems you might have.  In a sense, I had chained myself to a presentation which relied upon an inflexible plan.  Our Unchained conferences teach lessons to everybody so my takeaway is that you must be prepared for any and all opportunities.  If luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, I was “unlucky” because I was unprepared.

The Unchained philosophy is one of freedom–the freedom to succeed and the freedom to fail.  We know that our world and industries are changing rapidly.  Old bosses are being replaced by new bosses and the Unchained practitioner will supplant all bosses, to chart her own course, serve her customers, and profit wildly.  We hope to continue to give you the tools you need, to profit wildly, and share the experiences of those who implemented the strategies they learned with us.

Born Free and Determined to Stay That Way,

Brian Brady


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