By Ralph Roberts
RISMEDIA, July 6, 2007—On June 12, 2007 Reuters reported that “U.S. home foreclosures in May jumped 90% from a year earlier, reflecting a poor spring housing market and foreshadowing even higher levels later in 2007.” And this was only one of dozens of articles I read in June declaring the current foreclosure crisis and presaging worst times to come.
As a real estate professional, you probably find these headlines more than a little scary, but just think how scary they are to homeowners in your area, a majority of whom are probably a layoff or an accident away from foreclosure themselves. And think how scary it is for homeowners who have already received a missed-payment or foreclosure notice.
The good news is that you are in an excellent position to help these homeowners while creating a new revenue-generating division in your team or brokerage and generating some very positive PR.
Early in my career, I lost one of my first homes in foreclosure. I fell behind on the payments and was too embarrassed to ask my parents for assistance. By the time they found out about it, it was too late to save the property. Some good came of this, however; I realized that nobody in my market was serving the needs of distressed homeowners facing foreclosure. Sure, a few shysters in the neighborhood were pouncing on foreclosure victims like helpless prey, but nobody was informing distressed homeowners of their options and offering viable exit strategies.
Shortly after becoming a real estate agent and opening my own brokerage, I decided to launch a separate division to handle foreclosures, and it has become one of the most rewarding and profitable divisions for my business. I encourage you to do the same.
Why start a foreclosure division?
I encourage you to add a foreclosure department to your real estate business for several reasons, including the following:
- Working with people in foreclosure will generate an incredible amount of business for your organization, including listings, buyers, cash acquisitions, land contract sales, and renters for company-owned properties.
- You gain the opportunity to help people who are in foreclosure—people who probably don’t know what options they have available to them. You could be the one who offers them one last chance to get their life back in order.
- You can offer one option that most foreclosure investors cannot offer—the option to place the house on the market and sell it for the distressed homeowners. If the owners choose not to sell the property to you as an investor, they may hire you to list it, in which case, you profit from the commission. Either way, you win.
A foreclosure division provides your entire organization with recession insurance. Even when the U.S. economy is booming, a minimum of four to five percent of all homes in America are in foreclosure or facing foreclosure. When the market tanks, you have even more opportunities.
Getting started in the foreclosure arena requires some attention to detail. You can lose a lot of money if you are ill prepared and fail to do sufficient research. Your preparation must include the following:
- Secure financing (most foreclosures are cash buys).
- Brush up on foreclosure laws and regulations in your area.
- Prepare a foreclosure packet informing distressed homeowners of their rights, options, and deadlines.
- Network with loan officers, bankruptcy attorneys, title insurance companies, and other real estate professionals who can assist homeowners facing foreclosure.
- Network in the neighborhood to find leads on pre-foreclosure opportunities.
- Follow foreclosure notices published in your area.
- Research documentation on foreclosure properties, including the title and any liens against the properties.
- Inspect the properties with your own two eyes before making an offer or bidding on the properties at auction.
Tip: Consider setting up a cash-buy division in your business, as well, so you can move quickly to seize great buying opportunities. Your cash-buy division can purchase properties that are listed at bargain basement prices, unlisted properties, and pre-foreclosure and foreclosure properties.
When you step into the foreclosure arena, be careful. Study up on the foreclosure market in your area and invest with integrity. You deserve to earn a fair profit from your work, but you should always inform homeowners of all of their options and do what you sincerely feel is in their best interest. Don’t withhold valuable information just so you can get a better deal. My most recent book, Foreclosure Investing For Dummies, shows you how to invest with integrity.
Ralph R. Roberts, official spokesperson for Guthy-Renker Home and author “Flipping Houses For Dummies” and “Foreclosure Investing For Dummies” (John Wiley & Sons), can be contacted at 586.751.0000, or by e-mail at RalphRoberts@RalphRoberts.com. To learn more about Ralph, investing in real estate, and protecting yourself against real estate and mortgage fraud, visit http://www.aboutralph.com.
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