What is Your Value Add?

Figure out what the real estate wholesaler’s “Value Add” is and you too can make money in Real Estate. I’m not sure where I first heard the expression “Value Add” – I think it was when I was a consultant for the Corporate New Ventures Team at Proctor and Gamble. We were big on buzz words back then like; “ideation”, ” key take-aways”; “peel back the onion” and “30,000 foot view”;- all sorts of insider expressions that let others know we really knew what we were talking about and we were, well, consultants. I have to admit I still use these expressions in planning meetings today, although my planning meetings are much more informal these days and are more likely than not to be held with a few small confidants like my wife and close business friends. But I still love to use a white board and dry erase markers. When I can write ideas down they become more concrete – and approachable. The concept of “value- add” requires us to define not just our right to succeed in a project, but just what we are bringing to the table to justify a margin contribution. At P and G, I was taught that the conglomerates vast size and marketing muscle was not a right to succeed, nor was being first to market a right to succeed. A “value add” had to be present and sustainable, scalable and offer a benefit to each customer – not just to the market or to the companies bottom line. The soap, for example, had to actually clean better or last longer. This over riding concept has served the company well. A few months ago I was approached by an old friend in the Fort Myers real estate business. He was suddenly gung-ho on a multilevel market concept. He invited me to a presentation at a local hotel. I went because of our past friendship. At the meeting he talked about leveraging people, not money, and selling to friends various products that they were already buying anyway: like satellite TV service, cell phone service, and vitamins. I asked him simple questions; “What’s your value ad?” “What are you contributing to this process?” He did not quite understand that not having a value add would ensure that his business was not sustainable. He stressed I did not really have to DO anything. Sales people down my stream would sell. I did not need a value add. But I understand that in order for my customers to use me, the must need me for the added value I bring to the proposition. Ok. Let’s talk real estate, Fort Myers,Florida, Real estate From our Downtown Fort Myers office, Market America Realty and Investments Inc. is selling homes to wholesalers, end users, and landlords. The expression wholesalers is perhaps not the proper term, but if you wish you can call these folks flippers, dealers, or money men. The foreclosure deals we now handle bring in multiple offers in wide price ranges. I can usually tell when the buyer will be an occupant by where the price of the offer is in relationship to other offers- but not always. The investors that are going to resell the property know they need to add value to the property, and they know well where their margins and therefore offering prices, need to be. The “value add” the wholesalers offer is this: 1. Inventory. Just like you would rather go to one store to buy clothes than a few dozen manufacturers, so you would rather go one seller for homes. They know how to buy the home that consumers will occupy. 2. Renovation. Many of the homes they buy require sprucing up – some just paint and cleaning, some more extensive renovation. 3. Repackaging. This is a big one. The wholesaler buys for cash and will sell to someone who needs to borrow money. He “repackages” the home to better sell it. 4. Patience. When the wholesaler buys he has to move very quickly. He inspects in mere days and closes in as little as a week. When he sells his home to the end user, he adds patience – he will wait for the buyer to inspect, insure, probe, and finance. 5. Knowledge. Just like the store that only buys items for his shelves that he knows his customers want, so goes the real estate wholesaler. He buys the homes that are in demand, he has studied the market and knows what to buy, where the quality is and how to identify these homes. He also knows what his customers needs are regarding financing, closing, insurance, and warranties. The reputable wholesalers use their knowledge of the market, and strong agencies like Market America Realty and Investments, Inc. to help them find their properties. They pay for this service by making sure the agencies get paid commissions or fees for their work. Smart buyers these days are offering their buyers fees to their agents to locate the best homes over and above commissions paid by the sellers. Here are some techniques we use to locate homes for our investor buyers: * Statistical analysis. We divide our market into ZIP codes + four. In each plus four zone we review closings over the last three months. We do this on a trailing basis daily then compare this average price per square foot with daily new offerings that we get either on the MLS or from the banks lists we receive in that plus four zone. By 10 AM every morning this gives us the homes we need to look at personally. For example if the average sold price per square foot for that zone over the past three months is $60, and the new home on the market that day is $44 – we need to look closely at that offering. * Up Close and Personal. Once we have our prospective homes we need to figure out if the statistics are swayed by pools, age, or other factors not readily apparent. One of our agents familiar with that territory visits the home. Where ever possible we do an initial inspection for things like Chinese drywall, presence of appliances, and other salient factors like vandalism or mold. * Short Sales. We know the short sale process, do in-house loan modifications and deal directly with the banks to affect the sales and closing process. We make offers for our clients and work the bank, the property, and the seller during the long process. Our client’s money is patient; the investor does not need quick answers. When we approach the bank with a short sale offer, we have compiled every document and the answer to every question the bank will have. In the package presented to the bank is a BPO, complete financial statements, a hardship letter, listing agreement and marketing history, and a solid cash offer with no contingencies along with proof of funds. We like the short sale part of the business very much, because often these are homes that have struggled for months to be sold. We can make the sale happen. * BFB. We prepare a one page summary of what the investor is looking to buy. What his exit strategy is, what locations he wants, perhaps what ages, size, or style of houses he is most interested in. This BFB (Basis for a Buy) document becomes our template in our search. But it is also a living document that can be changed as market conditions change. I can’t tell you how many people call me up and tell me to just find them a “good deal”; ” You know”, they will say, “One I can make a lot of money on” This is not good enough for me or anyone on our team. We need to come to a meeting of the minds before a search is conducted and properties offered. * Kiss a lot of Frogs. Early in the process we may have to present many properties and indeed many offers to zero in on the targets. Often is it through “kissing a lot of Frogs’ that we are able to make the most accurate BFB sheet. * Know the whole journey. You have heard it before and I will tell you again: You make your money when you buy not when you sell. Smart investors know their exit strategy and every step along the way to the exit. They know their costs of holding, of improving, of taxes, insurance, etc. They give us a margin they are targeting and we will ADVISE them of our opinion of the exit sales prices. Our customers set these parameters, we do not. * Network. One of my clients used the expression, “Target Rich Environment” to describe the real estate opportunities out there. What he meant is that there are many many properties to look at. In order to weed out the gems from the fools gold, we need to use all the tools at our disposal. I have mentioned some of them above. The most important tool in my arsenal, however, is the network of sellers, brokers, agents, and investors that my team and I have developed mutual trust and respect with over the years. For me its about relationships and enjoying the trust that has taken years to develop. Ok, so you are just one person looking to buy one house at today’s bargain prices.. What do you do? Number one; hook up with an experienced broker like us. (Call me and I will suggest one or two!) Number two, sit down with your advisor and work on the BFB – build on your objectives and your exit strategy. Then be prepared to compete with the big guys. Short inspection periods, strong offers, completed paperwork, and patience. Examine your worst case scenarios. If you can still sleep with the worst case – your probably are on the right track. Get a handle on and define your expectations and be sure to share those expectations with your advisors. Making money is real estate was never easy – although it may at one time have seemed that way. Remember, people don’t make money without adding value. What’s your value add? Gregg Fous – www.marketamericarealty.com<http: />

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