My Plan Of Action

If you don’t plan where you’re going then how’re you going to get there?

Right then, here it is, my ‘Plan of Action’. It’s nothing special or clever but it’s a plan which I intend to follow and hopefully reap rewards from. Remember you’ve got to have a plan and act on it if you want to get anywhere, procrastination is the opposite of decision and is the ‘killer of all dreams’ (which I have to admit I’m guilty of at times)

As I’m not currently in a position to buy property I’m looking to trade instead, ie; get an option agreement on a property, use finance from a JV partner to fund the deal and take a finders fee, or an assisted sale- I’ve completed on an assisted sale previously – read about it here:  http://singlemumtopropertyinvestor.com/2010/09/19/how-i-made-more-than-12k-in-7-weeks-using-none-of-my-own-money/

I have a couple of investor friends who’ve agreed to JV with me this way. Or, if an opportunity arises to do a Lease Option that cash flows well then I’ll do this as well.

I’ve spent a lot of money in the past on leafleting, PPC, newspaper and online ads but never measured the results or compared the different strategies to calculate the cost of each lead I obtain or, more importantly the cost of conversion per lead. ie: I may get 16 leads from a distribution of 10,000 leaflets but if only one of those converts to a deal then the cost of that deal is going to be considerably higher. It all boils down to what you want to be paying per deal and is it worth your time, money and effort?   It can be ‘swings and roundabouts’ and its difficult to measure it exactly as there are lots of other factors to consider like:

  • The time of year (Christmas and summer holidays are not good times to advertise)
  • Your availability. Will you be available to answer telephone calls or will you use a call centre? If you don’t answer the caller will immediately call one of your competitors!
  • People skills. Are you comfortable talking with people and making them feel at ease?
  • Negotiation skills. The longer you’ve been doing it the better you will get.
  • Marketing material – What your leaflet or advert says is vital. Is it going to make people want to call you? There’s a lot of competition out there!
  • Your distribution method. Are your leaflets being delivered correctly by your team? (or being dumped?)
  • Your ‘Team of professionals’ ; The people you choose to work with to complete the deals, brokers, solicitors etc, if they’re not doing their job efficiently you can easily lose the deal

I’m intending to use three forms of advertising and compare costs and leads obtained/converted for each method to see which performs best. The three I’m using are:

  • 10,000 Leaflets
  • 30 Postcards (in shop windows)
  • 4 Local Newspaper Ads

I’ve already designed and ordered my flyers, the cost so far for that is £112.00 (for 10,000, they should be with me around 21stMarch.  I put an advert on my local ‘Gumtree’ site yesterday (15/03/12) saying:

‘Owner Drivers Wanted For Leaflet Distribution For Local Property Company. £30.00 per 1000 paid plus bonus of £200.00 (paid on completion) if a lead turns into a deal’

So far I’ve had 19 applicants, well it was 20 but one of them lived inRomania, so I’m not counting him – he sent me his CV, gotta give him credit for trying though lol. I’ve replied to them all saying I’ll be in touch when the flyers are ready for delivery.

In my experience it’s much better to have lots of distributors delivering small amounts (ie; 1000 each) rather than a couple delivering thousands. Why? Because they might be keen to do a few but get bored after a while (it is a tedious job) and therefore be more inclined to dump them!  I don’t use the mail companies, they’re expensive and tend to deliver your leaflet with 10 others! (which subsequently get dumped in the bin)   Also, make sure the distributors all live near to the areas you want covered as you’ll have to drive out to pay them for their work (after checking to make sure they’ve delivered correctly) and you don’t want to be driving for miles (time is money!)

I’m currently writing the Post Cards and will be taking them out to local shops in the area, there are not many places that let you advertise nowadays but I’ll just have to drive around and find them. The cards will say something similar to my flyers…’Houses Wanted, Guaranteed Quick Sale’ etc

The Newspaper Ads will say something similar, but these ads will be a bit shorter as they’re expensive – around £120.00 for 3 insertions for a 5cm ad – and will be shown for two weeks on three consecutive days each week, ie; Thurs, Fri, Sat.

I’ve designed a Vendor Contact Form which I’ll refer to when dealing with enquiries which also has a field asking where the vendor saw my advert so that I can log which method they are responding to and therefore see which advert has been most cost effective overall.   As I want to start each strategy around the same time I’m currently looking at starting around Thursday 29th March (which incidentally is my birthday!) as by then I will have my flyers back and have all the necessary paperwork etc in place.

I think I’ll give the campaign about a month to 8 weeks then draw up a graph to show comparables for cost/conversion for each strategy etc, as that will be interesting, although I’m rubbish at maths!

Well that’s it for now, I’ll post more as I start the campaigns and keep you up to date. Feel free to ask any questions – or make suggestions!   


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Now THIS Is What I Call Job Satisfaction

Yesterday I got a surprise text from a guy I’d helped with an Assisted Sale back in August last year.

 At the time, I was selling his house through an Estate Agent because the guy was on the brink of having his home repossessed for non payment of his mortgage and owing around 5k in arrears , this was due to an accumulation of circumstances.

 The guy (we’ll call him John) was estranged from his wife, lived by himself and had lost his driving job as a plumber due to a drink/drive offence (drowning his sorrows)

 From then on he ‘buried his head in the sand’ stopped making his mortgage payments and let himself (and the house) go until he couldn’t ignore the letters he was getting from the bank any more because they were threatening to take him to court to recover the debt.

 That’s when he called me, after receiving one of my leaflets through his door which basically said ‘Do you need to sell your house fast?’

 If you missed my previous post about the Assisted Sale you can read it here:https://suziebates88.wordpress.com/2010/09/19/how-i-made-more-than-12k-in-7-weeks-using-none-of-my-own-money/

 What I didn’t say in my previous post is how depressed John was at the time. I’ll be completely honest about why I didn’t elaborate on it…. I felt guilty because although I was helping him to sell the house I felt I could’ve offered him a greater share of the profit.

The Download Music Festival

 I spent a lot of time chatting with him because he seemed lonely, he told me about his teenage son and his love of  rock music and  the ‘Download’ festival, which he’d attend every year with his son (it’s a heavy rock festival which goes on for days and everyone camps out in tents) There were photos everywhere!  

Apparently this was the first year he’d missed because of his financial difficulties, so his son had gone without him.

 He also talked about his Dad, who he missed and hadn’t seen for years due to an argument they’d had years ago. I had to ‘push’ him a lot to get paperwork signed and sort things out in the house, I felt like I was always ‘nagging’ at him to get things done!

 At the time we agreed that I would…

  • Pay off his arrears
  • Pay the mortgage until the house sold
  • Speak to the bank about giving us some time to sell the house
  • Put the house on sale with an Estate Agent and conduct the viewings
  • Pay all his Estate Agent  & solicitors fees

 Then he would get £1000 (which he owed his ex wife and wanted to pay back) and 15%  from the profit of the sale, and he was happy with that.  I know I could’ve offered a bit more and  didn’t want to advantage of his situation,  so on completion of the sale I gave him a cheque for an extra £500 on top of what we’d agreed as with hindsight I felt a bit ‘greedy’.

 As part of our ‘agreement’ I also said I would pay for his ticket to the ‘Download festival’ the following year which he was really pleased about.

 When the day came for him to move out (he was moving in with a friend) his ex wife called me saying he’d been taken to hospital because he’d attempted suicide, I had no idea he was feeling that low and I was beside myself with worry for him.

 I went straight to the hospital to see him, he did look a sorry sight and I felt so guilty at selling his home, but the alternative was losing it anyway and being left with a massive debt which he couldn’t pay. It’s a terrible, hopeless situation for anyone to be in and it made me think about others in the same situation who HAD been taken advantage of by unscrupulous companies.

Rather him than me!

 I spent ages talking to him about his life and how being more ‘positive’ would make a difference to him.

 I gave him a copy of ‘Rich Dad, poor Dad to read! and suggested he contact his Dad, which he did, and to cut a long story short he went to live with him in Wales for a ‘new start’.

 Anyway, last week I bought him his festival ticket, plus camping for 5 days and a return bus ticket from Swansea so he could get there and back. I sent it to his Dad’s address in Wales.

 Yesterday John sent me a text, here’s what he said:

 “Sue thanks so much for sending the ticket and for all your help. I’m more than happy here, getting on great with my Dad, I have a job, a new girlfriend and now my Download ticket, life doesn’t get much better than this. Thanks again for sorting me out, John x”

 I can’t tell you how much that meant to me, knowing that he was happy and settled, a far cry from the sad, sorry soul I’d first met.

Although I made a good profit on the sale of his house,  knowing that I have actually changed his life for the better has given me the most amazing sense of satisfaction that money could never buy, and that’s what makes it all worthwhile 🙂

When Things Go Wrong

Inevitably there are times when things just don’t go to plan.

It happens to all of us as we all make mistakes but as long as we learn from them then that’s fine.  After all, there is no success without failures.

Anyway I’ve  had a bit of a set back 😦 If you’ve been following my posts you’ll remember me talking a while back about the ‘Assisted Sale’ I completed on and at the end of the post I said I had another one in the pipeline?

The 3 bed semi

Anyway, a retired couple had cotacted me (through my leaflets) saying they wanted to sell their 3 bed semi (in Leicester) as it was too big for them.

It was a non standard build property (BISF – steel construction) which can be difficult to sell (and get a mortgage on as some lenders don’t like them) however I’d spoken to my broker and he assured me there WERE lenders happy to lend on it depending on the buyers criteria.

There was no mortgage on the property, they just wanted to sell it, rent a small flat and live off the money as they had no relatives to leave it to. They’d been thinking about it for a while and decied to do something about it when they read my leaflet 🙂

It had a good sized garden

They were a lovely couple and I spent a lot of time with them finding out what they wanted to do and how etc. Eventually we came to an agreement. I would find them a nice flat in the area they wanted, pay all their legal fees, solicitors, Estate Agents etc and they’d sell the property to me for £60,000, market value was around £90,000.

They didn’t want the hassle of dealing withthe EA, showing people around, legal issues etc so I was going to do all that.

I found them a gorgeous flat exactly where they wanted and to their specs, one bed, ground floor, central location, that was being advertised by a letting agent. I picked them up, took them to see it, they loved it and wanted to move in asap but wanted the rent a bit cheaper.

So I negotiated the price with the landlord via the agent and got it at the price they wanted. They were delighted and decided to move in within a couple of weeks so I put the house on the market with an estate agent.

They didn’t have a lot of money behind them so I offered to lend them £2,000 so they could move into the new place (to pay upfront tenancy fees etc, and this amount would come off their share on sale of the house. (This was all written up in the T&C’s on the Option Agreement)

I’d already had it valued at 90k (by the EA) but was marketing it at 85k as I wanted a quick sale. I figured that if I could sell it for about 75k I’d still make a good profit after the legal fees were paid. I luckily made 12k on my previous assisted sale and was hoping I could repeat it! If you missed it You can read about it here

So to save a bit of money I thought we’d hire a van and move them ourselves, so my hubby Mike and son Nick and I got there early to start loading the van! It was a nightmare, I’ve never seen so much stuff and they’d packed most of it into black plastic bin liners…they were everywhere!!

There was Mike dismantling their electrics beds and Nick heaving the washing machine & fridge into the van while I was piling up a sea of black bin liners and going back & forth in an attempt to get as much as possible into the first load.  I don’t know how the hell they thought all that stuff was going to fit into a one bed flat haha.

As the old couple weren’t very moblie and the guy had a bad hip I didn’t expect him to do any lifting so I took them to the new flat in the car with a couple of chairs and made them a cup of tea while I went back to carry on with the loading.

We had to make two trips so it was a total of 40 miles in the van and a couple of car trips to pick up the last few bits, my car was covered in mud from all the bloody pot plants in the garden :/ but after 6 hours we’d done……or so we thought!

They then wanted help to put the beds back together, the washer needed plumbing in and they needed help to unpack the heavy items and make up the beds, plus I went to the local shop to get them some chips as they were hungry!!

Then we had to go back and start taking up the old carpets, stripping walls in the lounge & kitchen and re-painting it . There wasn’t a lot of work to do but it still took us another couple of days to finish it. we were knackered by the end of it but thought it would be worth it in the end.

The area where the property was situated was a ‘bit rough’ and we had a couple of problems, we visited the property regularly to make sure everything was ok and one time someone had stolen the bark and plastic underlay from the front garden, so it looked a righ mess,  and someone else had thrown a door and broken furniture over the fence into the back garden. So obviously we (Mike) had to clear this up!

Then there were the phone calls from the couple “Can you please do this for us” “Could you please come and show us how this works” “the Alliance & Leicester is shut, what can we do” etc etc! They were always pleased to see me though and treated me like part of the family bless em!

Initially there was a lot of interest in the property and we had an offer of 72k but the guy couldn’t get a mortgage (because of the build). The estate agent said people were put off because of the type of property. Two months later we had another offer of 70k from a guy who’d come from London to view it, he wanted to buy it to let.

I went to see the old couple to give them the good news and was astounded when they said (very matter-of-factly) that they’d had a nice time at the flat but had decided they wanted to go back home as they missed the neighbourhood,  ‘pottering about in the garden’ !and they didn’t think their BUDGIE liked it there!!!!!! Grrrrrrr

It’s a good job I’ m a patient person or I would’ve strangled them and buried them under the patio! After chatting with them for a while it seemed they were adamant that they were going back so I had to accept that, but also told them we had incurred fees which would have to be paid back (the £2000, van hire, EA fees etc) which they agreed to pay by getting a loan 😦

SO……they ended up moving back (with their own removal van this time) we had to tell the guy from London he couldn’t buy the property and the landlady of the flat wasn’t pleased as the 6 month tenancy was only in it’s 3rd month. And this is cutting a long story short lol!

We wasted a lot of time on this project but at least we recouped our costs, which made me feel very guilty as the old couple had to get a loan to pay us back. I’m a big softy and was thinking of letting them off but Mike quite rightly said “We’re not running a charity”.

They were fine about it, and said “Well at least we tried it out”  and asked me to keep in touch as they’d miss me!

Anyway, a valuable lesson was learnt, don’t mess with pensioners or non-standard builds again, and I have to ‘man up’ and stop being so soft! 🙂

How to make more than 12k in 7 weeks using none of your own money

Hello again 🙂

Yesterday I attended a fantastic free seminar in London with my good friend and JV partner Vince Audritt. The seminar  ‘Think Big Education’  was hosted by Juswant and Sylvia Rai who host the Berkshire Property Meet, which I’m now attending regularly.

I learnt some great new stuff which I’m just itching to get out there and implement!

There were some great well known speakers, John Lee, Rob Moore and Glenn Armstrong all talking about their strategies and how these strategies had helped them to become property millionaires.

One of the things that stood out for me that was emphasised by all of the speakers and summed up in a quote was ‘All that we are is a result of what we have thought’ (buddah)

What a fantastic quote that is! In my experience this is so true. You are what you ‘think’, so if you think you CAN’T do something, then guess what? You’ll never do it!  More about motivation and the ‘Law of Attraction’ in another post.

Anyway, as promised I’m going to talk about the title to todays blog which incidently I wrote in my note book on the train to London yesterday. I like travelling by train, it gives me a chance to contemplate, get away from my lap top (we’re joined at the hip) and just ‘chill out’ for a bit (a rare occassion!)

One of the strategies I learnt on the TMA course (Tycoons Mastermind Alliance, run by Parmdeep Vadesha & Hanif Khan) was how to do an ‘Assisted Sale’ (AS).

What is an assisted sale?  this simply involves as the title states ‘assisting’ someone to sell their property. Read on for more information.

Why would someone want ‘assisting’ with a sale?  There can be many reasons:

  • Selling a house can be very stressful and some people just don’t want to have to deal with this.
  • They may not have the time nor the inclination to deal with Estate Agents due to their job or other commitments.
  • The house may have been on the market for a long time and has not sold.
  • They may not have enough funds to pay ‘up front’ fees to Estate Agents/Solicitors.
  • The house may need extensive work before it can be sold which they cannot afford to fund.
  • They may have moved out of the property (or out of the area) or it may be a deceased estate and they don’t want the inconvenience of having to deal with viewings or the legal jargon.
  • They may have debt worries or be in the process of repossession and need someone to liaise with their mortgage lender on their behalf / stop the repossession
  • They may not be familiar with the whole selling process and just want someone else to take care of it.

The seller would have to be ‘motivated’ in some way, meaning he needs a quick sale to help him resolve his problems.

One of the ways to ‘find’ motivated sellers is by sending out leaflets, and as a result of my leafletting campaign in June this year I recieved a call from ‘John’ (name changed) who asked me to come and have a chat with him as the bank was threatening to repossess his home.

I went to visit John and was there chatting with him for about an hour. It’s very important when speaking to vendors to find out exactly what it is they NEED and want you to help with. The name of this game is not just ‘what’s in it for me’ it’s about giving people achieveable options to help them move on with their lives. People have to be able to trust you and believe you can deliver what you offer so you mustn’t make promises you can’t keep.

 The house in question was a lovely 2 bed town house in a nice area. John (47) had lived there for 7 years but had lost his job a year ago and just stopped paying the mortgage (a typical ‘I’ll bury my head in the sand and hope it all goes away’ type of guy) he’d previously split with his wife and lived alone.

John had also ignored all correspondence from his lender (mortgage provider) and was around 5k in arrears with his payments. All he wanted to do was pay off his debt to the bank and move on to rented acoomodation but because he’d lost all credibilty with his lender he was now not in a position to do this, theywere  fed up with him ignoring their attempts to contact him and had put in for a possession order.

The banks don’t repossess people just because they can. They do give ample warnings of missed payments and ask people to inform them if they have problems making the payments so they can come to an agreement whereby the home owner can make payments they can afford. For instance they can have the payments reduced to ‘Interest Only’ for a while until they’re in a position to afford more.

However, if people choose to ignore the correspondence and the case goes to court then this is a different matter.

After assessing the figures I suggested I could help him with an ‘Assisted Sale’ which he was happy to go along with. We agreed that I’d pay his debt (the final redemption figure from his mortgage lender) and anything the property sold for over this amount he would get 15% of, which he was happy with. I would also deal with all aspects of the sale, conduct the viewings, appoint him a solicitor and pay all his fees (solicitors and estate agent)

When you make an agreement like this you have to have something legal to ‘back it up’ so my solicitor drew up an ‘Option Agreement’ stating everything we’d agreed and John signed it.

I then sent a ‘letter of authority’ to his lender on John’s behalf (which he signed) saying that from now on I would be their point of contact and I was a ‘family friend’ helping him to sell his property.

The lender (Alliance & Leicester) called me and were happy to talk to me. Amazingly they didn’t want to see any ID etc, all they were concerned about was that the situation was finally being addressed and as John had sufficient equity in the property were happy to give me some time to sell it and repay the debt. All they requested was a £100 token payment for goodwill which I paid immediately.

John owed £62,000 on his mortgage and had around £5,000 in arrears. On the open market the property was worth between 100 – 105k in it’s present condition (it needed decorating) so I spoke to an Estate Agent and told them I didn’t want any bullsh*t about what it ‘could’ achieve, I wanted it to sell quickly and wanted the price to reflect that.

The house then went on sale for £89,950. There were 4 viewings and after just 6 days I had an offer of £85,000 which I accepted.  The couple that had offered on the house were first time buyers and loved it!

John actually told me how much he appreciated my help as he’d never have done it alone, he’d have lost the house and would’ve still had a massive £69k debt over his head. This way his debt was paid off and he had some money in his pocket as well.

This was a ‘win win’ situation which is what we must strive for to ensure that not only are WE better off, but the vendor is too.

They guy was infuriating at times, I had to constantly ‘chase him’ to sign all the paperwork. I once even picked him up from the pub, took him home and got the documents signed then took him back to the pub lol.

Still. we became friends and he told me about his life and I jokingly ‘told him off’ for getting into that mess in the first place and gave him a copy of ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ to read to ‘motivate’ himself!

Here is the redemption statement I recieved from the lender:

Redemption statement from Santander

Everything went pretty smoothly and after 7 weeks the sale was completed. Here’s the completion statement:

Completion statement August 2010

After paying all the legal costs for myself and John and the Estate Agents commission (total around 4k) I was left with over £12,000 profit. Not bad for a few weeks work!

How did I do it using none of my own money?

Obviously there are ‘upfront fees’ that needed paying like my solicitors fees, the £100 token payment to the bank etc.

So what I did was take out a zero percent credit card, pay all the upfront fees with that then when the money was credited to my account after completion I just paid off the credit card in full with no interest to pay. Easy!

Although John was happy with everything I felt a pang of guilt that I could’ve offered him a bigger percentage of the profit so afterwards I actually sent him a cheque for £500 and offered to pay for his ticket to the ‘Download Festival’ next year (he’s a big fan and goes every year but hadn’t been able to attend this year due to losing his job) which he called me to thank me for. And I WILL remember to buy him a ticket!

What if the house hadn’t sold with the estate agent?

As there was plenty of equity I’d have  sold it on cheaply to another investor for a ‘finders fee’. So there was really no great ‘risk’ to myself but you know how the saying goes ‘Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained’ and I’m a great believer in this…………or I wouldn’t have got this far!

The point of this is not to brag about how well I’ve done but to make people realise that it’s not that difficult, because if I can do it then so can anyone else.

If anyone wants any more information please email me, I’ll be happy to help: suzanne@bluecatproperty.com/

I’m currently in the process of another ‘Assisted Sale’ but will talk about that when it’s completed. See, I said ‘when’ not ‘if’ because I’m a great optimist lol. Where there’s a will there’s always a way!

Until my next post,

My very best wishes,

Suzanne 🙂

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