Top Secret: Getting killer real estate deals

05/29/2008 – 3:12 pm

Depending on your area, many times it is not that hard to find a great real estate deal. In some areas you’ll see 20 to 50 percent as distressed sales. Even with this type of market, there tends to be an elite class of properties that stand out among the distress category.

It could be because of location, condition, price or terms that cause these types of properties to be stand outs and it is in this category that I’ll share some secrets as to how to get them.


Short Sales

Based on price these seem to be one of the most attractive categories to pick from. Not only that, but there are so many of them. The problem with short sales is that it comes with a HUGE contingency. It is subject to the lender’s approval.

That means the buyer and seller can agree on the price and terms, but it means nothing until the bank approves it. Many banks have a loss mitigation department and their objectives can be quite different from the seller and buyer.

Tip 1

One key is to work with approved short sales . That most likely means an offer was submitted and the bank had approved that offer and for some reason it fell out of escrow. The buyer and seller already know that the bank will accept the price they did previously. This helps a lot when looking to purchase short sales.

Tip 2

It’s a numbers game. Most experienced short sale agents do not think much of the first offer(s). The Listing agent knows it just starts a process with the bank and that statistically the buyer will end up finding another property instead of waiting 4 to 12 weeks for a response. In this case, a second key is to recognize that purchasing short sales is a numbers game and it usually takes about 10 offers to equate to 1 close. Play the game correctly and you’ll have a valid chance at owing some really good properties.

Tip 3

Think in nets. Usually, a good story and a strong qualified buyer with a large down matters to sellers and is essential to getting your offer accepted. With banks being so overwhelmed with loan defaults, the standard mode of operation is the path of least resistance. The primary indicator that they use is what they will net from this sale. So when making offers, look to see how you can show that the bank will net the most from working with you.

Tip 4

You MUST have an agent team that is aggressive in follow up. Remember, your offer may be used just so that the Listing agent can start talking to the right bank department or person and you can easily be ‘forgotten.’ I can think of over a dozen stories like these from other agents in the past 2 weeks! Follow up is a must and you need to have someone who has the resources to do it.

Tip 5

Keep your deposit check. There is no reason to open escrow when such a major contingency exists. You can not tie up the property by being in escrow. Let’s say you open escrow and wait 8 weeks. In that time 4 other offers come in and are presented to the bank. The bank can accept another offer even if you are in escrow.

Tip 6

Work with an experienced team. Don’t get sold on what an agent can do for you, have them prove it to you. That’s right – if you miss this step you can waste a lot of time. Many agents do not have successful experience in this area, transact too infrequently or do not have a team.


If they are learning on you then you could be paying too much or missing out on the best deals. Ideally, you want someone that has been through a market cycle before, is working fulltime and has no other occupation. They should have specialization in what you are looking for. An easy way to tell is to look at their business card. If they are not even trying to brand themselves as an expert in the category you want, then why take that chance working with them.


They should have no less than 10 qualified active buyer clients. If you are the only one or 1 of 3 then you should run. If you needed to do brain surgery, would you want a doctor that does 1 every 6 months or see the doctor that has 1 to 2 surgeries every day. There is safety in crowds and working with an agent that doesn’t have a strong active client following in your category is a huge indication to ask a lot more questions.


If they do not have a team (a real team) that can service you then there is really no way you can find the best deals. The reason – it takes a lot of hard work. This is not rocket science type of hard, more like ditch digging hard. If you want a Grand Canyon real estate steal then you need to have an agent team that can throw their resources behind you.

Caution, don’t get tricked by a franchise name thinking familiar is better, because the reality is that all of their agents are independent contractors and the ‘team’ may be nothing more than promotion and not the ditch digging hard work needed to win the best real estate deals.

The best way to find out is to ask who is on the team, what do they do and how will they service you.

In the next series we’ll talk about how to get the best REOs on the market.

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