I sold my shares of the BPO Automation Group last June and promised myself at the time that I'd get out of real estate. I like working with agents, and as a software designer my role at BPO Automation was emotionally rewarding, but the industry is down and as the year progressed I met more and more agents who were right on the edge of financial collapse.
You know their story: maybe it's your story too. You get up earlier, spend more time digging for leads, and make sure to follow up on the few you're able to find. Maybe you're making some sales; maybe not. Maybe you feel like each day you're getting stretched a little farther and you're just not sure how long you'll be able to stay in real estate.
You're not alone: Harris Real Estate University founder Tim Harris cites NAR statistics indicating that 20% of all real estate agents may be out of the business in 2011, and the numbers don't look much better for 2012, either. These statistics hit home for me back in May, when I was working closely with an agent in Las Vegas, who told me that this was her worse year ever, and that everybody in her brokerage was saying the same thing.
So it got me to thinking about solutions - I mean, real solutions, that actually benefit people. The BPO Software I was selling at the time was useful, but most agents can't live on $45 payouts, and it's just not a viable alternative for the majority of people in the business. In a sense, the BPO market is a stop-gap measure to avoid financial ruin, but not a way of life: at least not for most people.
What's the alternative, though? Homeowners just haven't been buying, and it's hard to blame them: you've got to put more money down to get a mortgage, there are fewer loopholes to let people in easily, and most homeowners have exhausted their equity or just plain lost it as the house itself depreciated in a down market. Yet you see agents fighting against this trend, which may be nearly the definition of insanity: trying the same thing over and over again expecting different results.
I didn't have a solution to this issue in mind until I met Howard Jachter - a Real Estate Investor who also writes software. He's been perfecting a tool called FasTrac Investor, and at first I was skeptical about it. After all, the bubble just collapsed: who's going to need software to help them flip homes?
Over the course of a couple of weeks, Howard took time to explain to me exactly what he did, and as he explained it, I started to get excited. What I found out from him - and hadn't known at all beforehand - was that homes are STILL selling, and people are STILL buying: just not the average Joe on the street.
You see, our average Joe can't afford to buy a house, but professional investors are scooping them up a-plenty, because there are better deals available right now than at any time in the last 50 years. So YES, it's a buyer's market - just not for the kind of buyers you're used to working with. Investors have different criterion for their purchase, but they're out there, and if you make the effort to get inline with their activities you've got more bulk profit-potential than you'd probably ever see just selling homes one at a time to individual buyers.
In Howard's own business, he uses FasTrac Investor for wholesaling. Long story short, he has corporate buyers looking for homes in his area that meet particular specs, and he uses FasTrac Investor to quickly locate these homes & separate the wheat from the chaff in terms of financial profitability. He takes the winners to his wholesalers, they close the deal, and everybody's happy.
Wholesaling isn't the only game in town, though: you can also buy a home and lease it out, or rent it. That might play well in today's market, because even though Joe Average can't afford to buy a home, he still has to live somewhere, which means that rentals are in-demand and prices are rising as a consequence. Just like wholesaling, you want to make sure you find the right property first, though, which makes FasTrac a viable tool here as well.
FasTrac Investor was designed to work around your needs for all 3 major strategies: buy and sell, buy and hold, and wholesaling. In today's volatile economy, odds are that if you get into real estate investment you'll pursue a mixture of strategies, and in that case you can use FasTrac to support whatever strategies apply best to each particular scenario.
It makes sense, you know? That's why I took the job with Howard's company: I kept thinking back to that lady driving around Vegas in her big white Buick, looking for leads on homes to sell, and realized that if something doesn't change then thousands of hard-working agents just like her will be out of the business in the near future.
Vice-President of Marketing | FasTrac Investor
(949) 297-6278 | firstname.lastname@example.org
About Us+ FasTrac Investor is a service of Forescent, Inc., a real estate software and services provider located in the Pacific Northwest. We deliver quality real estate software solutions for investment professionals nationwide. Learn More »