Cash Flow With Joe

Real estate is not a house business

Real estate is not a house business


This statement may sound counterintuitive, but real estate is not a house business — it’s a people business. It just so happens that the setting in which you are interacting with the people includes houses and mobile homes. But think about it — without people wanting to rent, sell and buy the houses, the properties themselves wouldn’t have any value.


This is an important concept that is not talked about all that often.


You see, a lot of aspiring investors spend a lot of time and money going to seminars where they learn important technical skills on how to buy, rehab and sell houses. They will go to other classes where they learn how to do paperwork like writing up a purchase and sale agreement and what should be in their residential lease contract. They’ll read books, listen to podcasts and watch videos on subjects ranging from how to market for leads to how create creative financing deals.


But at the end of the day, you can’t put any of those subjects into practice without dealing with people.


With that fact in mind, you may want to look into some ways to hone your people skills. And I’m not talking about just negotiating. I’m talking about improving how you interact with people every day. And if you need an idea of a good place to start, I recommend the book “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie. It is an amazing book!


But the best place to hone your people skills as an investor is meeting face to face with sellers. There, you can ask Peter Fortunato’s famous question — “Why would you sell such a nice house as this?”


Once you do, you’ll often find that the house is not the real issue. Something is going on with the people and the house just happens to be the symptom. But by focusing on the people aspect of the issue, you can get the information you need to solve the problem and you may wind up getting a house as the byproduct.


Now, I do a couple of things to make sure I keep the people component at the forefront of my mind when I go to meet with sellers.


The first thing I do when I sit down with sellers is ask, “How can I help you the best?”


This statement disarms people. You see, they’re expecting a real estate investor to come in and beat them up to get the lowest price possible on the house. In anticipation of this fact, and since negotiating is an uncomfortable thing to most people anyway, they are already on edge. But when you let them know you are there to help, they calm down, open up more, and it makes for a better meeting.


Next, I tell the seller that my job is not necessarily to buy houses, but to solve real estate problems. And I say that my goal is to help them by giving them some options that will put them in a better situation. I even tell them that the solution may or may not include me, but that my goal is to help.


This speech conveys to the sellers that they, as people, are more important to me than their houses. And I mean it.


Take last week for instance.


I went on a seller call to beautiful house on acreage. There were fenced pastures, a pond and two houses on the property. And the place was in great condition. When I sat down with the seller and got through my spiel, I learned that she really didn’t want to sell. You see, the seller was getting older, and the acreage was becoming more than she could manage by herself. Her kids were worried about that and were encouraging her to sell. But she was happy in that house. She had lots of memories there, which was evident by all the family pictures that covered the walls, and she didn’t want to leave.


I could see that she needed to stay in her home. So, I gave her a solution that had absolutely nothing to do with me or even selling her house. I suggested that she find someone that she could trust and rent them the second house on the property in exchange for keeping the grounds.


She liked that idea a lot. We had a good rest of our visit, and I left.


Now, I won’t make any money off of that transaction. And if I were only focused on buying houses, I wouldn’t have been able to do my job. But by realizing real estate investing is a people business, I was able to solve a problem and help a lady out. And that is payment enough for me.


Joe and Ashley English buy houses and mobile homes in Northwest Georgia. For more information or to ask a question, go to or call Joe at 678-986-6813.


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