I have been at the National REO Brokers Association(NRBA) annual conference the last four days. The NRBA is a great organization that helps REO agents with their business, systems, referrals and anything else an REO agent could possibly need. We started out the conference with a golf tournament on Wednesday, which was an absolute blast. This is the fourth time I have been to the NRBA conference and every time I play in the golf tournament I am teamed up with an asset manager. To an REO agent meeting with an asset manager or vendor manager is extremely important to getting REO listings. It’s tough to get face time with an asset manager for 5 minutes, 4 hours of golf with an asset manager is amazing!
Networking with other agents
The main goal of a conference is to provide information to help my business and allow me to meet clients in person. However, I usually get more out of a conference by networking with other agents. On my first day at the conference I met five agents who were also investing in Real Estate, either by flipping or holding long-term rentals. Not only had I talked with many agents about the REO industry, I had a chance to pick their brains about how they invest. Just because this was an REO conference, it does not mean you can’t learn about any number of subject’s, in fact this conference had a huge amount of information on topics that were meant to grow an agents wealth, by other means than listing REO properties.
Conferences give me a chance to think differently
During a normal work week I am busy completing tasks, inspecting properties or doing other work related items. At a conference I am in a completely different state of mind. The entire conference I am not focused on tasks at hand that need completed, but how I can improve my business. I think many of us get caught up in the day-to-day routines and forget about the big picture and where we want to end up. A conference forces you to think about that big picture and think about new ideas and techniques that can ultimately make you more money. At this particular conference there were many speakers and panels that focused on how agents can make more money and add new income streams.
Conferences force you to delegate
When I am at a conference I cannot complete the day-to-day tasks. I have to rely on my staff to get everything done and done correctly. Allowing your staff to complete tasks or taking that first step to hire help is extremely scary when you first do it. It is a big step, but in order to get to where we all want to be it is a necessary step. For me to list houses, complete BPOs, do my inspections, flip houses and invest in houses as well as write this blog I must have help. There simply is not enough time in the day for me to do it all and spend time with my family. When I go to conferences or on vacation it forces me to delegate more to my staff and let them handle more day-to-day activities. Most successful business owners know a business should be able to run without the owner and still make money. Many of us have a really hard time delegating anything to anyone because we think it will be done wrong. If you want the time and success that we all want you have to be able to let go and let your staff take care of things.
Make life long friends
I meet so many agents and clients at conferences it is hard to keep track of them all. Each person I meet, I can pick their brain on investing, REO and what they like to do in their personal life. It is a great experience to meet new people and find life long friends. I have received many referrals from people I have met at conferences and learned great business ideas from them as well. Many people go to conferences for the scheduled events, but many times you can learn more from other people attending and not the speakers.
New business ideas
At this conference the focus was not on meeting REO clients like most REO conferences, but making more money for REO agents. I really liked this conference because of the focus on wealth creation, not day-to-day business. One very exciting idea that many investors should be interested in is Non-Performing Loans or NPLs. There are many NPLs in the United States, many more than I thought before I attended the conference. For those of you(including myself) who thought foreclosures were behind us, I think we are wrong. There are millions of NPLs still out there that will eventually come to the market. The really interesting thing is the ability for the individual investor to purchase NPLs. It is possible for investors to buy one NPL at a large discount and then decide if they want to foreclose, do a loan mod or short sale. I hope to have a detailed article on this soon and maybe I can even get someone from one of the NPL trading ompanies to help me write it.
I have been fighting listing short sales for years, everyone keeps telling me I need to do it, but I have resisted so far. After this conference I am going to get started in the short sale listing business. There are companies now that will handle almost all of the dirty work and negotiate with the banks for agents. That was always my least favorite part of short sales and now that I can hand that off to someone else, I think I need to get in the game.
Is REO dead?
At the last conference I was at in Dallas, many people were asking me what I was going to do since REO was dying and would be gone soon. I politely told them I would be fine and I have many income sources if REO dies. Secretly I told myself REO was not dying and it would last for many years to come, although with all the negativity I was wondering if I was kidding myself. This conference convinced me REO is not dead, in fact it may even be increasing soon. The NPLs in the US are actually staying steady or increasing slightly. REO has decreased over the last three years because of a number of factors.
- Robo signing lawsuits delayed and restarted many foreclosures
- Short sales have increased reducing the number of homes that go through foreclosure
- Many NPLs are being sold to investors, banks or hedge funds. This delays the time it takes to get an REO to the market
- Government interventions have forced banks to be much more thorough in their efforts to offer refinance or loan mods to a delinquent home owner.
Some will also argue that many banks and the government did not want the market to be flooded with REO because it would cause a massive drop in prices and panic among the public. Many experts who spoke at the conferences agreed that the markets could not handle all the REO that is actually out there if it was dumped all at once, but they also mostly agree that the market is now in an artificial bubble because of a lack of inventory. Many of the experts predict REO will increase in 2014 if not the end of 2013 and we will see a pull back in the market gains we have seen in the last year or two. No one predicted a market crash like we saw five years ago, but they do not think this increase in prices can continue with all the NPLs out there.
Will I stop investing?
No! Just because there may be a slight down-turn in the market does not mean I will stop buying homes.
- Who knows if the industry experts are right, they all thought we would see a tsunami of REO in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and it never came. Now they all agree it isn’t going to come at once, but will be released slowly.
- My philosophy is based on cash flow not market value, I will continue to look for the properties that have great cash flow. I do not focus on market value so a down-turn will not affect me greatly.
- Timing market is asking for trouble. No one really knows when a market will go up or down until it has already happened. I got some great deals when the market was down a couple of years ago and I can still get good deals now. As long as I stay true to my cash flow model I will be fine.
I encourage everyone to attend conferences for their work or for investing. Conferences help out my business, create relationships and make me more successful. If you want to go to the NRBA conference it is restricted to members of the NRBA and it is not easy to get into even if you are an experienced REO agent. This conference is not a possibility for most people, but there are tons of conferences all over the country for every industry. Conferences are a great way for anyone to increase their productivity, better their business and network.