Strategies for Getting Started in Real Estate by Dan Auito - HTML preview

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Internet Resources

There are no affiliate links in any of these—they are friends!

Search engine:
Second choice:
Third and final:

GENERAL REAL ESTATE Top picks (top 100 sites) Michael (totally useful all around resource) (a most solid directory of R.E. related information) Tom (another great starting off point to find what you need) Michael (a monstrous directory to get you going) Michael, again! (again, a huge directory to get you moving) Mike you rule (creative investment education and support) Scott (friends of fizbo’s) Bill (deep resources in real estate) Jon (serious subscriber support) Joel (one word “links”) Trent (well respected directory) (guru central) (all around great resource, articles) Lara (Super resource to get going) Mike (lot of respect for Bill Bronchick) Bill (solid directory)

Research sites (your “must” source for news) (very large information resource) (latest real estate news) (economic news) (all the news) (latest market news) (news) (apartment owner’s industry news) (R.E. tools for investors) (analysis) (relocation guide to cities) (find your ideal spot) (market conditions) (electronic newspapers)

(city and school facts and more)
(state facts & info)
(statistics of the U.S.)

(get your data here)
(data quick news and stats)
(your phone book and more)
(homes for sale nationwide)

(what’s it worth, comparables free) (public records search) (find an owner thru research) (find owners in trouble) (launch a direct mail campaign) (insurance issues) (scroll to real estate, huge resource) (background checks) (multiple search databases) (credit reports on tenants)
www.FINDTHESELLER.COM (track them down) (find the tenant who owes back rent) (auctions) (go to real estate) (gov’t property sales) (go deep into gov’t site) (national housing links) (buyer’s agent directory)

Financial (your states mortgage rates & news)

( get your credit score) 888-397-3742
(today’s rates and more) (calculator)

(mortgage trends)
(solid mortgage news and resources) (financial/loans) (100%cashout, non-owner occ) (mortgage discussion) (rehab lenders) (more rehab funding) (stop foreclosure) (calculator heaven) (32 different calculators) (calculators/loans - Texas) (calculators and more) (higher math) (calculators & relocation info) (finance) (4free finance books) PDF (find a good warranty co.) (home warranties) (military forms resource) (hud-1 settlement statement)

Inspection/Appraisal (free inspection reports) (click on “.org”) (find your appraiser) (find your appraiser) (ask an appraiser) (general valuations) (valuation tools) (comparable data providers) (find a home inspector) (5000 inspectors) (tips) (5000 inspectors) (ask a home inspector) (ask a home inspector)

Contracts/Forms Suppliers (make a flyer) (you’ll love it) (more love) (forms in pdf)

(pay for the form you need)

(more forms) (ditto) (ditto) (free contracts - excellent!) (free contracts - all 50 states) (free - Colorado contracts) (more free forms) (creative forms) (then follow “finance” to real estate)
(free) (find an attoney) (sample forms/ lawyer search) (find an attorney) (find an attorney) (every lawyer on the planet) (questions answered free) (law resource) (free tenant move-in checklist) (free landlord forms) (bandit signs galore) (wide variety of signage) (supplier of signs) (advertising signage supplier) (one key for all the rentals)

Forums & Networking

(my attempt to bring us all together) Dan (creative investment) JP
(property management) Jeffrey (landlord protection) John (free landlord forms) (networking) (positive cash flow)

(clubs) Cameron
(friend to all, R.E. investor resources) Bruce (lease-option forum) (20 repair forums) (43 finance forums) (clubs & associations) (more clubs)

(apartment owners’ associations) (real estate clubs nationwide) JP (clubs)

(more clubs) Tim


(ladies discussion, scroll to bottom) Laura

(newsgroups & lists) (real estate forum) (discuss & more) Craig (networking triggers) Malcolm (do it) Jeff (forums galore) Michael (land trust and creative r.e forum) Bill

More bulletin boards of interest (forums) (owner financed homes for sale) Greg (r.e.investing resources) Bruce (wide variety of useful articles) Michael e&
dealmakers above)
Jeffrey planet) John
(solid community of investors at the

(the best land lord site on the planet)


(the next best landlord site on the (jerry knows the mobile home game) (foreclosure experts) (Steve) (Steve) (serious r.e.investment community) (widely read bulletin board) (free listings, bulletin board and more) (the granddaddy of creative finance) JP (excellent texas based site) Bill (well covered topics list here) (lease purchase and more) Michael y Liz (lease purchase) Jeff (quick offers and tons of resources) Tim (good forum a little agent biased) Michael Robs place (quality discussions)

State specific (forums) Arizona Arizona again! California N. Carolina S. Carolina Colorado D.C. Maryland Georgia Indiana
Indianapolis Iowa Kentucky Massachusetts Oklahoma (Tulsa) Oregon =viewforum&forum=9&4 Phoenix Arizona Texas Dallas Texas dfa0a3& Houston above. Utah (group) U.S. Land Directory of forums 43 forums 100’s of forums

Don’t laugh serious sites below (forums) everything garden and more home and garden t.v. better homes and gardens choose your board at ivillage do it all yourself bc472 remodel discuss its how things are done ask Deano

Technical & Marketing (forums) (one of the coolest sites I’ve seen) (tech-guru’s of real estate website design) (webmasters found here too!) aee76 2cc11e (build a site overnight) Lynn

(wall street journal on-line) (financial times, world news) (spots trends, events and opportunity) (your eye on business) (information on the razors edge)

Commercial Investment Club (top stories) (latest commercial news) (commercial properties for sale) (directory of resources) (browse navigation bar) (exclusive buyer’s agents) (ask Pete, he knows everything!)

1031 exchanges (read about exchanging) (1031 exchanges facilitators)

Home Improvement

(plan your work) (remodel it)
(super site)

(home plans) (draw your plans) (find a builder under resources) (finishing touches) (plumbing repair forum) (the world of paint) (be smart about carpet) (wood floor Q’s) (the garden)

Reverse Directory

(reverse lookup) (multiple directory) (find numbers)
(general addresses) (multiple search options) (latest multiple source) (find people, places & things) (last chance) (no more real estate agent calls)

Street-finders/ Maps (maps) (aerial photography & demographics) (E.P.A maps) (data, data, data) (travel) (helps you relocate smoothly)

FSBO SITES (directory of places to go) (top 100 fsbo sites) (81 fsbo sites) (national fsbo homes for sale) (florida)

List Your Home for Free or low cost (total support/free) Dan
(free) Sue (free - also forms under resources) Wally (free) Connie (free ads & articles) Becky (free) Don (free) Bill (free) Levin (free) Jeff (free) (free) Michael (free) Richard (free) (free) (free)
William (free) (free and guide) John (free and guide) Gina (free or paid MLS) Randy (30 days free) Jerry (free) Jerry (free) ($199.00)
(free or broker $995 flat) Don (free contracts, lender owned) good (alternative, lender owned) (low fee) (low fee) Wayne (low fee) David (low fee) Randy (low fee) Alana (low fee) (low fee) (low fee) George (low fee) Laine (low fee) Michelle (low fee) Damon (low fee) (low fee) (low fee, largest inventory) Steve (low fee) Shawn (high exposure, not cheap) Kevin (Kevin offers good value) (open house day) Ger Vang (view listings, for buyers) Wayne (a neat twist) Greg (want more) (that’s enough) Michael

Foreclosure searches (foreclosure resources) (find it first) (r.e.o. search) (auctions)

(can you guess) (auctions) (repossession agencies) (learn about foreclosure)

Free real estate e books (4 free finance e-books) (fsbo buyers/sellers handbooks) (nice beginners guide from Barry) (scroll to sign up for free book) Pete (negotiate those foreclosures) Thanks Joe! (Subscribe to get 2 free e-books)

More great sites (John exposes gurus) (feel ripped off, report it!) (a list of gurus) (Bill Gates does real estate) (Tom teaches) (Ernest is also a teacher) free downloads (a rich resource) (one smart Bill) (Jacks library) (John’s downloads) (mike’s how to) (comprehensive resource list) (reference any topic) (article resource) (paste it) (Australia anyone?) good people! (comprehensive resource) (Los Angeles group) Phyllis (long list of links) (my buddy Dave down in Clearwater fl.) (links to everything) (home searches and general information) (home searches and evaluations) (home evaluations and agent locator)

(form your LLC)


(yahoo real estate portal)

(another list of entry points)
(solid articles)
(39 more sites)
(article heaven)

(marketing genius and friend -rated PG) (download this)

(technology answers – Lynn) (more tech support – Mike)
(Programmers – Brittany) (creativity) (self-improvement forum) (Free e books to pick you up) (discover your power) (100’s of free e books)
(be a hero - my good friend Sharif) (Shel a man of principle) (Didn’t find it? Dig deeper!) (the moving company that saves your back) (hands off investing in real estate stock R.E.I.T.’s

My site, which is designed to further support your efforts, is

I told you it was a daunting list. Basically, it is the top 10 percent of more than 2,500 websites I have researched. Granted, I didn’t investigate too thoroughly some of the free home listing sites as they are more of an exposure resource for the FSBOs who sell their own real estate, but otherwise I am confident in recommending the rest based on the solid information they provide.

Now that you have plenty of resources at your fingertips, what should be your first step of action in the real estate game? If you don’t have your own home yet, then I strongly recommend you acquire one. My first home purchase was a small two-bedroom, one-bath that I paid $50,000 for back in 1989. I thought I paid $5,000 too much for that home but we still own it today. It’s currently worth $100,000, so that $5,000 was well spent because it got me in the game.


Naturally, the more research, education, support, advice, and understanding you can acquire before you jump in, the better off you’ll be. Some experienced investors suggest taking 12 to 18 months to read and gain the knowledge before you buy anything. I think three to six months is more realistic as long as you read some good books, ask lots of questions, square away your finances,

understand market values, and have a solid game plan. I encourage you to go slow at first and not overextend yourself by trying to buy things that are beyond your skill level and monetary means.


I strongly recommend that in addition to reading books, you attend a free homebuyer’s class, listen to tapes or CDs when you drive, and stay in tune with local and national news. Hit the web to do research and ask questions on bulletin boards, chat groups, and forums while looking at the many properties that are offered for sale in your area. This will help you begin to understand how the world of real estate works—and help you develop a keen eye for buying the right properties.
In a nutshell, when looking at a potential property to purchase, you want to check the plumbing, electrical system, foundation, and structure and roof. Keep in mind the importance of the property’s proximity to schools, shopping, transportation routes, police, fire, hospitals, employment, restaurants, office supply stores, pharmacies, and so forth. Don’t forget to investigate the economic outlook for that specific type of investment. Here’s a website that has a few articles of mine posted that can help you gain further understanding on these points:

Set your initial goal of acquiring just one property within six months and then acquiring another within another six months. If you stick to that schedule, you can have 20 properties in 10 years! That’s the slow and sure method—or rather the “buy and hold” strategy—but it makes millionaires of ordinary people all the time.

Using the above strategy, however, will force you to determine whether you can handle property management and being a landlord. I guarantee to show you the tricks of the trade in “landlording,” so don’t let this bother you. Just know that you can do it.

Another surefire way to do well in real estate is to stay put! When you move, all your friends, networks, service providers, and contacts go right out the window, not to mention you can’t actively manage your assets effectively and you will lose control and pay others good money to do the things you could be doing for pennies if you were there to manage the process. So find a place on this earth and decide that you will never move farther than 30 minutes away from your properties.

Let’s say you’ve decided that landlording is not for you. In that case, you might consider retailing or fixing and selling homes that need help. In doing this, many of the same skills apply, things like doing the research, finding, evaluating, negotiating, contracting, financing, closing, repairing, marketing, showing, and then selling the property to achieve your desired profit margin. The “fix and sell” method doesn’t give you any long-term appreciation or tax advantages, but it can offer you some immediate cash returns allowing you to build up your reserves to do more or acquire better deals using all cash.

No doubt you’ve heard about no-money-down deals, short sales, lease options, tax sales and certificates, attending auctions—and 100 different ways to creatively finance them all. Many of the programs will work to the degree that you apply yourself to become an expert at understanding and using these methods. Just remember not to believe all the hype. Investigate the purveyors of the “sounds to good to be true” program by going back to John Reed’s site and looking them up. You are going to need to understand how to read and fill out sales contracts, learn the terminology used in real estate, and understand basic finance, loan guidelines, applications, and qualifying procedures. You can’t very well persuade reluctant sellers and lenders into believing you’re able to solve complex problems unless you’re prepared to do so.

A thriving real estate investor or retailer solves a lot of other people’s problems; that’s how you become successful. The more knowledge, ability, experience, contacts, and resources you have, the more solutions you can begin to offer people in solving their problems. In addition to this, you will be ahead of the pack if you can get people calling or coming to you with their specific problem first. That means you have to advertise the fact that you are in a position to help while being fair, trustworthy, and accurate in making quick decisions before the competition tries to persuade these people first.

For the above reason alone—competition—you will need to understand marketing. That means deciding on what you are going to specialize in, developing a method to define your target audience, and then attracting them with a well-written message using the different types of media to get the word out.



• That last paragraph brings up a good point: What exactly do you want to specialize in? Following are some categories from which to choose:

• Condos, vacation property

Single-family homes
Apartments for one to four families (residential duplex, triplex, fourplex)
Commercial— hotels/motels, strip malls, office complexes, mobile home parks, storage units, parking lots, garages, restaurants, stores, apartments for five or more families, and so forth
Industrial—factories, refineries, manufacturing plants, and so forth Farms—commercial, industrial, or agricultural, depending on zoning Raw land—lots, vacation, recreational, sub-dividable residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, and special purpose
• Special purpose—churches, schools, hospitals, power plants, theaters, sports arenas, golf courses, marinas, and so forth

Here are some examples of how you might go about finding some


good deals:



• Look at bulletin boards, local papers and small independent publications. This goes for every publication you get. Make sure you get one of the first copies off the press. Go to the facility that houses the presses and get your copy before the ink has a chance to dry. Let no one beat you to the punch.
• Better yet, advertise yourself and get people who are thinking about selling to call you before they actually tell the world through an ad.
• Look at the legal section of the newspapers. Contact heirs and attorneys, and sales in the garage or estate sale sections. Also, 20 percent of people who have garage sales are planning on moving soon. Ask about their house or their neighbor’s homes. Always keep your antenna up!
• Your odds of success increase when you choose large population centers and remain in the market constantly on the lookout for your type of deal.
• Look for vacant houses that are run down, fire damaged, or abandoned, with city notices evident. Talk to the neighbors of these homes. They usually know who owns it and what is going on. They have an interest in seeing it restored to beauty. It sure is a shame you can’t look in the mailbox to see who is receiving mail at the property in question—wouldn’t that be easy? Walk up to a property and look in a window to confirm that it is indeed vacant—but don’t endanger yourself by getting bit or shot! Use common sense. Contact out-of-state owners through property records or by letter and/or phone. Leave your cards on the door.
• Oreo stands for Other Real Estate Owned. Make friends with your local lenders and let them know you are the one to call when they have a foreclosure looming or in progress. Hint: If you prequalify with lenders beforehand, they may call you sooner.
• Watch the local paper for foreclosure auctions, tax sales, and HUD and VA listed properties. Note: Auctions held in bad weather where the property absolutely must be sold are your best chance to limit competition and get property at rock-bottom prices. Because there is no low limit on what can be accepted (no reserve) you may win big.
• Real estate agents are going to try to sell you something! When you approach them be very specific with them and tell them to call only if they have an absolute steal. Ask agents to give you those expired listings since they couldn’t sell them. Suggest a 2 percent commission if they will assist with closing the paperwork after you make the deal with the seller on your own.
• Don’t be so selective. If the property is an absolute steal, lock it up and sell it to somebody who does like to work with that type of real estate. Get the option and hand it off to another buyer. Look for distressed sellers in addition to distressed property.
• Post fliers everywhere—colleges, Laundromats, shopping centers, bowling alleys, public bulletin boards, churches, local businesses, wherever large numbers of people congregate. Give them a chance to give you a lead on a hot deal. (For example, print up cards that say “I pay $500 to you at closing if I buy a house that you told me about! Do you know anyone who is selling property? Please call [your name] at 555-1212.”) Print quality business cards.
• Join organizations of all types. The sky is the limit. There are so many—just pick the ones that you would be interested in truly being a member in and let it be known you pay bounties for consummated (closed) deals.
• When you use headhunters, leave out no one. Property managers, moving companies, relocation services, neighbors, landlords, tenants, the mailman, the paper boy, gardeners, landscapers, service technicians, pest control people, friends, acquaintances, relatives, and other investors. You name it! Everyone should know they can make $500 if you end up buying a property they tell you about. Enlist your army! Give each of your soldiers stacks of your cards for exponential growth.

A special note: Water, gas, and electric company personnel who shut off utility meters can be very good bird dogs when it comes to finding property that is in trouble or vacant. Make sure they have your cards.

• Have at least 10,000 business cards printed with your offer of the $500 bounty and hand them out in stacks to everyone you can.
• As you grow, you might consider TV, radio, phone books, billboards, street benches, bumper stickers, and bigger commissions. Use your imagination.
• Put up signs telling people you buy real estate.
• Make multiple lowball offers on overpriced properties and walk away. Don’t deposit earnest money but they may stew on your offer and call you a month later accepting your deal. Leave the offer with them.
• Older people should not be left out. They are very valuable informants. They know everything and need people to talk to! Listen to them.
• Go to free seminars on real estate. Do this not only to learn about real estate but also to capture names and circulate among real estate–minded people. Once you have their names, call your own club meeting and network to prosperity. Find your mentor here.
• Go to where people are buying those “by owner” signs. Ask them what they are selling. Follow them home and get the first look! Be first or lose the deal.
• Try offering 15 percent less than what you intend on paying. You never know; they may accept it. If they don’t, you can still negotiate up to 15 percent more and get it for what you originally were willing to pay. If it’s any higher, walk away but leave the offer on the table (the offer stands).
• Make your offer easy for the seller to understand. Get the option to buy but use a contingency to protect yourself. Iron out the details later but lock it up now!
• Buy from sellers who tend not to care: seized, foreclosed, tax sales, corporations, nonprofits, disinterested heirs, probate attorneys, and private auctions.
• Try just helping someone to sell his or her property even if you don’t want it. Be a friend and offer to help for nothing in return. You will be amazed at what happens when you sincerely try to help with no thought in mind of making money. This is a magic bullet in disguise.

Those are some of the basics of advertising and finding the opportunities to buy real estate below market. The old saying goes: You make your profit when you buy, not when you sell. (20 percent off retail, minimum)

00002.jpgGenerally, if you can’t get a $100,000 property for $80,000 or less, forget it!



Again, your ultimate goal is to have motivated sellers calling you. Many a beginning investor has went the route of going out and wasting plenty of time looking for the good deals instead of advertising to have
the good deals come to him or her. The pros know how to attract motivated sellers
by using direct mail, signs, newspaper ads, websites, and a host of other media
that reaches their specific audience with a hard-hitting message. Then when the
phone starts ringing and the website starts pinging, they go into action to find out
whether or not they can solve the particular problem at hand. When they find the
numbers will work, that is when they hit the street to go face-to-face with the
seller to further investigate the physical property itself. Essentially, the property is actually the second piece of the puzzle after they find out if the seller is motivated enough to allow for a profit to the investor or retailer.

You will find that time is your most precious and limited resource in this business, between eating, sleeping, family, exercise, routine tasks, and possibly a nine-tofive job, you may wonder just how you will be able to manage. First thing you can do is say goodbye to the television as you won’t have time to waste. Among other things, you will find the following also are great enemies who steal your time. Try to eliminate these:

1. Lack of motivation
2. Mistakes of my own
3. Failure to listen
4. Mistakes of others
5. Indecision
6. Poor planning
7. Unwillingness to say no
8. Lack or procedures
9. Cluttered workspace
10. Equipment failure
11. Interruptions
12. Meetings
13. Waiting for answers 16. Lack of self-discipline 17. Unclear goals
18. Conflicting priorities
19. Procrastination
20. Lack of delegation 21. Poor communication 22. Unreal time estimates
23. Micromanaging
24. Junk mail
25. Red tape
26. Low company morale 27. Peer demands
28. Civic activities
14. Socializing 29. Oversleeping
15. Shifting priorities 30. Negative attitudes

Many of these will not apply but circle a few that do and work on getting an hour or two of time back so you can pursue your new real estate goals. Organization goes a long way toward helping you stay focused in this biz.

Let’s review: At this point, I hope you realize there are no get-rich-quick schemes. You also know how to research gurus using John’s site to do so. Additionally, do the following:

• Set a small achievable goal—maybe one house within three to six months
• Start reading books, news, and articles while participating online
• Attend real estate investment association meetings in your area
• Use the internet to do research and network on a broad scale
• Seek out knowledgeable advisors and duplicate proven success formulas
Get that credit score (FICO) up to at least 680 (preferably 720)
• Begin saving or gaining access to other people’s funds to acquire assets
• Get familiar with real estate terminology and the forms required in real estate
• Decide upon how you will market to get those motivated sellers calling you
• Get organized and start using your time wisely to pursue real estate interests

Now that you have some ideas percolating, we need to get you into the largest bricks and mortar bookstore in your local area. I don’t recommend Amazon or the library at this point and here is why. By going to the big box stores, you’re going to see a wall of real estate books in the business section. Make time to spend about three hours to review all the titles offered—yes, all of them!

The way you do this is to start at the beginning and pull that first book down, look at the table of contents and see if it triggers any excitement in those old bones. If not, put it back and go to the next one. As you move along there will be a book that gets your attention. Now keep that book and measure the next one against it! Which one is better? Keep the one you like best and keep going, systematically eliminating titles that don’t measure up to the one you have.


Sometimes you’ll find yourself torn between two good titles. That’s when you put one down on a table close by and keep going. Now you’re collecting the good ones; do this until you have exhausted the resource. Odds are you will have 10 to 20 books. Now sit down at that table and whittle that stack down to about five. Take the plunge and go to the cashier, get your membership card (buy it now), and buy those books!

Now go home and make time to read them. They’re yours, so feel free to highlight and make notes as you read. I write the page number and the topic on the inside back cover of items that get me thinking for quick reference later. (This is my own personal index based on what interests me.) You can’t do this with library books! Beside the fact that library books have to be returned, they often are outdated and the selection can be inadequate as well.
You need to start building your resource library to refer to often when you need answers to questions as they arise. Here is my short list of reading material that you should have when starting out:

• A street-finder map book, local edition
• A real estate dictionary
• A real estate tax book, recent addition as tax laws change
• A homebuyer’s inspection guide with checklists
The Landlording Manual by Leigh Robinson, for rental property
The Realty Bluebook by Robert de Heer—very comprehensive
The Unofficial Guide to Real Estate Investing by Spencer Strauss
• Of course, my book—Magic Bullets in Real Estate
• One or two books that jump out at your innate interests

Use and to buy books that have already been recommended to you.

With the above books and guides in your possession, you’re already miles ahead of the pack. Now you have to read them in addition to doing some of the things we have discussed previously. Again, I’ll emphasize that this is your own personal reference library, so write your name on your books and never loan them out. People don’t return them and you will forget who you loaned them to.

This next step is optional but if you want to put some distance in between you and the competition, then it is time well spent. Sign up for a four-weekend appraisal class at your local college. With 75 hours of appraisal training under your belt, you’ll begin to acquire the ability to recognize value and also understand how appraisers think which leads you to make improvements to properties that appraisers will add into final evaluations.

I mentioned this earlier but will say it again: the sooner you can decide on where you would like to live for a very long time, the better off you will be. Preferably you want to be within 30 minutes or 10 miles of large population centers (big cities) as these areas are hubs of activity and offer plenty of opportunity to solve multitudes of problems. If you can go against the trend of moving out of your established area every five to seven years, you will eventually become a recognized expert and people will seek you out. In addition, you will be able to maintain active control of the assets you acquire along the way.
It is important to start building a network of real estate industry professionals you can personally call upon to get things done. You will also build on those relationships by referring their services to others when you see opportunities to do so; they, in turn, do the same for you.

Start a personal address book for all your real estate contacts, and I do mean all of them, including your tenants if you have them. The following is a list of specialties in order, as you may need them. List their names, what they do, their phone numbers, and e-mail addresses:



Commercial banker
Mortgage broker
Home inspector
Title company
Insurance agent
Pest control company
Real estate agent
Rental manager
Home warranty company
Home security company
Heating and cooling
Roofing company
Skilled carpenter
Flooring company; installer Painter
Appliance repair
Landscape maintenance company Cleaning service
Tax planning (CPA)

Hint: Get private numbers and promise not to give them out. This will save time.
All of the above people can be any of these: information resources, bounty hunters, assistants, educators, specialists, net workers, referrals, facilitators, strategists, tacticians, problem solvers, buyers, sellers, partners, friends, tenants. Real estate is a people business. Start out on the right foot and acquire and organize your network of professionals.

There are a few different ways to begin finding good service providers; one of the best ways I know is to ask appraisers who they would recommend if they needed certain things done themselves. Appraisers know value and they also know those who do good work. Ask them for a referral and follow up on it. Be sure and mention that “so and so” has sent you. This way, in a sense, you are getting a somewhat personal introduction from someone they trust. The appraiser also gets bonus points for turning them on to a new customer—you!

Here is another sweet deal: Look for air conditioning, plumbing, and electrical service trucks parked along side streets in your own neighborhood. These are where the blue-collar technicians live. Since you are their neighbor, you can begin asking them if they do side jobs (most do) and when they do, they chop off all the company overhead often resulting in discounts of 40 to 50 percent of what normally would be charged if you went through the front office to schedule those same services. If you have time, you might go here and read an article I wrote on this to give you a little more understanding on this: