Another change in direction

I know what you’re thinking — here we go again. Why can’t you just pick a direction and stay with it?

Here’s the background. I hired Michael Carbonare at the end of July to help me find and execute my first lease option deal. At the end of August, I quit my job with the Census Bureau with the intention of devoting full time to both the real estate business and a marketing service for restaurants (SMS text marketing and Facebook advertising.

When I quit my job, my hope was that we would start seeing income within 30 days. For a time I worked on both ventures, but over time decided to devote all my time to real estate with the thought that I may still return to offering the marketing service later.

It’s now been two months now I quit my job and still no money coming in, and nothing on the horizon either, at least from a lease option deal. I didn’t mention that I also hired Brian Gibbons to help with the real estate. The intention there was that I would find and qualify leads, pass them to him, and we’d split the commission. That relation ended badly. I found leads, but he refused to do anything with them saying they weren’t motivated enough.

I’ve had other issues as well. I changed CRM’s twice which has also forced me to change my business number twice, so that hasn’t helped.

Two weeks ago, I decided to pay $500 to be part of a challenge by Joe McCall to make at least 60 real estate offers over a 4 week period. The deal was that I’d get my money back if I completed the challenge successfully. Up to that point I was struggling to get out 2 or 3 offers a week. I’m now half way through the challenge.

The good news is that I’ve been able to keep up and have submitted 32 offers so far. The bad news is that just a couple days after starting the challenge, I decided on a major shift in direction.

So to explain, I need to go back a few weeks. I discovered some Canadian companies that were into lease options big time except instead of trying to find motivated sellers first, they start with the motivated buyers. And instead of trying to talk a seller into a lease option sale, the company simply purchases the house and leases it to the buyer. It’s such an easy business model — if you have the cash. Willing tenant buyers are much more prevalent than available properties.

I was wondering why I hadn’t found anyone in the U.S. operating this way. I decided to post my findings in a Facebook group. A couple days later, Erik Gerace responded by telling me about 3 companies in the U.S. that do operate that way – Home Partners of America, Divvy, and Trio. I looked them up and sure enough, I learned that they buy homes on behalf of qualified buyers and then lease them to them. I also discovered that they work with independent real agents who earn full commission when they purchase the homes.

I just sat on the information for several days not sure what to do with it, if anything. Then, while on a walk with Susan, we were discussing our options. She suggested that we start building a list of prospective buyers so we could then tell sellers that we had people ready to buy. I didn’t think that was practical for us, but went on to tell her about Home Partners and the others who did exactly what she was suggesting. Then I suggested the possibility of us becoming agents and working with them.

She instantly liked that idea, and at that moment it clicked with me, too. When we arrived home, I purchased a real estate licensing course.

The timing wasn’t great. I had just begun Joe McCall’s challenge a couple days prior and knew I needed to focus on that because we needed the $500 back. But now, I had another focus — one that was more pressing.

After making the decision to get my license, I decided it would be helpful to talk to Erik to get an insight he had to offer. It turned out to be a great call. Susan and I spoke to him and his partner Rapin via Zoom. It turned out that they were not only working the lease companies I mentioned, but that they are with ExpRealty, which I had researched months earlier and decided that if we ever got our licenses, that would be a good company to join.

Anyway, everything seemed to be coming together, but the pressure was on. Time is running out. We’re nearing the 4 month mark – the number of months remaining before the George’s return. We have virtually no cash reserve and a negative cash flow by at least a few hundred dollars every month.

At this point I’ve pretty much given up on finding my own lease option deal before we need to move, but nevertheless I need to finish up the challenge to get a refund of the money. So my time is split and I’m under pressure. I’m do the challenge and studying for the real estate license at the same time. But I’m moving along. It took me just over a week to get through the 60 portion of the class. I still have a 30 hour portion to complete. My hope is that we can start seeing some income by the end of the year.

I was going through a similar experience 3 years ago when I was studying for my life and health insurance license. That ended up being a waste, but this is different because I have a much better plan in place. After I got the insurance license it took me a couple months find a broker to work with, and never was able to come up with a business plan that I liked.

This time, I’ve already got a broker and mentors to work with. I also have a much better idea of how to run the business in a way that I’ll find some satisfaction with. I should be able to hit the ground running the moment I get my license.

ExpRealty is a worldwide brokerage and it should be very easy to network with the other agents. So the plan is to send them referrals, thus generating income without having to do all the things that agents normally do.

Here’s the plan: I advertise on Facebook, seeking people who would like lease-to-own. I’ll build a Messenger chatbot that will help get their information and pre-qualify them. The leasing companies ask prospective buyers to fill out a detailed form and pay a $75 fee. Anyone who gets that far is a very hot lead.

Using mostly automated messaging, I lead them down the path. When they fill out the form I immediately pass them to another agent near them, who helps them find a home. I receive a commission upon completion of the purchase. With this model, I should be able to receive a nice income while working at home in any part of the world, and without all the hassles normally associate with being a real estate agent.

But time is still the issue.

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