The Facebook Stalker: Real Estate Investors Need Thick Skin!

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Facebook is one of the great tools for real estate. Networking, selling, building buyer’s lists, and even advertising if you want to spend some marketing dollars. I’m on Facebook quite a bit and it has helped contribute greatly to the building of my business. When I stop and think about it, the real estate investor’s relationship whom I do the most business with was formed thanks to Facebook.

However… as is the case with anything in life or business, there are always trade-offs. In this case, Facebook allowed a disgruntled seller to hunt me down and give me a piece of their mind.

With that being said, the key dynamic you should understand if you want to get into real estate investing is, GROW THICK SKIN.

I remember reading other investor’s battle stories and finding it comical in a sense. When it finally happened to me though, it wasn’t so comical, but after stopping and analyzing things, I learned I just needed to toughen up a bit.

The Scenario

I found a house that had been sitting on the market a while already, so I talked with their agent and threw out a pretty low offer. The agent took the offer to her clients and as I expected, they shot it down, but “did” offer to come down from their asking price. This number still wasn’t where I needed it so I declined and told them to keep me in mind.

Fast forward three months and a few more times of going back-and-forth and we agreed on a purchase price.

The Facebook Message

After having closed on the house and with renovations underway, I was doing my usual routine of checking my Facebook messages. I noticed I had a message in the “Other” folder (the place Facebook puts messages from people that aren’t on your friend list). I thought, “Oh nice! Hopefully another professional reaching out to me.” Whoops! I was wrong…

It was a message from the person who identified themselves as the seller of the house. It was a private message to begin with, so for privacy concerns and out of respect for the seller, I won’t copy and paste it, but it basically contained three points.

1) I lied to them.
2) I took advantage of them.
3) Thanking me without realizing it.

I’m assuming they saw some of the marketing I was doing for the house (I begin immediately after purchasing) and then went to trusty Facebook to look me up and see if I had a personal profile.

The Aftermath

If I’m going to act like a tough guy, I’d say: it didn’t bother me, I just went about my day.

But, I’ll give you the honest side of things. It did shake me up a bit. Now it isn’t like I dropped to the floor and started sweating with the shivers; however, it did shake me up in the sense of, “Did I actually screw these people over?”

Yes, yes, I know. I’ve read the same things you have: you need to separate emotions from business. And while I agree 110% with that, this was the first time I’d ever been accused of something like this, so the emotions and business began to flow together rapidly.

Bottom line: I was shook up.

Assessing the Situation

From the get-go I  knew I didn’t screw anyone over, but have you ever had the feeling where you “know” you are in the right, YET you still feel like you need some reassurance to be “certain” you are in the right? That’s how I felt, so that’s what I did.

I spoke with my project manager and told him about it and how they said I lied to them. Through my negotiations, I told them the estimated things I planned on doing to the house. I suppose after seeing my marketing, they noticed a few of those things weren’t mentioned: therefore, I lied. As my project manager said:

Since when is an ESTIMATE the same thing as a FOR SURE?

Although I already knew this, again, it was nice to have reassurance that indeed an “estimate” is just that, an “estimate” not a “it will be done 110% for sure.”

I then spoke with my brother-in-law about the message and how they claimed I took advantage of them. My brother-in-law, a former Lieutenant in the Marines, gave his usual simple, yet all encompassing answer and said:

Did they not have the ability to tell you “No”?

Once again, this reassured me. No one had a gun to their head and forced them to accept my offer. On top of this, they were working with a real estate agent (professional), so it isn’t like I was dealing directly with them and using Jedi Mind Tricks on them. I negotiated through THEIR real estate agent.

The final point is more just to display the irony in things and “why” I (nor you) should ever get shook up and doubt yourself.

The Facebook message started out like this (not paraphrased): “While I am grateful to no longer have two mortgage payments…” and then it went into the rant.

Did everyone catch what the seller just said? They NO LONGER have two mortgage payments. If that isn’t a “Win-Win” for everyone involved, then I don’t know what is! They were finally able to eliminate this second mortgage payment, I was able to get a good deal as an investor. That is how capitalism works.

Lesson Learned

Continuing on with the final point from the previous section, this fact and this alone is the only reason needed to justify the business we are in. As investors in order to get a deal done, we need to figure out ways to create “Win-Win” situations. I should have realized this from the start, but I didn’t. Shame on me. – Lesson #1

Just because you have (or are trying to) create a “Win-Win” situation, people may not see it like that. Although you are not trying to take advantage of people and lie to them, some people may perceive it like that. Grow thick skin and be prepared to get chewed out at some point in time. – Lesson #2

It’s okay not to be a “tough guy” all the time. As I mentioned already, I had done my education and learned about how I need to expect to get confronted at some point, but I suppose I failed that lesson as it shook me up. With that being said though, if you need to, seek reassurance. Don’t let it slow down your business operations. I knew I was in the right, but it was on my mind. After talking to my project manager and the former marine, I was at peace and back to my usual self. There is no shame in admitting being shook up a bit. It shows you care about your business and productivity (face it, if you are shook up, your productivity and efficiency are going to decline). – Lesson #3

Photo: imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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About Author

Clay (G+) is a licensed real estate agent and the owner of Huber Property Group, LLC, a real estate investment company located in Grand Rapids, MI. His company purchases distressed properties with the main exit strategy of fixing them up and reselling with owner financing, particularly, land contracts.

11 Comments

  1. When you read some of Donald Trump’s books you get the feeling he is always striving for an “I Win – You Lose” scenario. Some of us put the book down at that point and decide we do not need to read about this style of investing. Going for a win-win or even a win-win-win situation is always the way to go. You win – Seller/Buyer wins – Real Estate Agent wins – this allows you to be able to sleep good at night.

    • Brandon Turner

      But Donald Trump’s books are so absurd they are hilarious sometimes :) I love the way he just gossips and tears down other celebrities!

      Good article though Clay! I enjoyed the story. I’ve had yet for this to happen, but I have had angry tenants find me on Facebook and my blog in a sort of passive aggressive “I know where you live…online” kind of message. Creepy stuff!

      • Donald Trump books are good for at least one thing: entertainment. You may be able to find a tidbit here and there, but overall, he knows exactly what he is doing, and writes to entertain the reader.

        Dale – it’s all about business model. Some people don’t care about a “Win-Win”. They have more of the “Win-Who Cares About You” model. I tend to think that isn’t a very good recipe for long term success, but who knows, maybe some make it work for them.

        Brandon – I agree. That’s pretty creepy to be ‘stalked’ in a passive aggressive way like that. I suppose it all comes with the territory of being involved in real estate.

  2. Clay: We find some people have very short memories. Those who are thanking us profusely at closing may well come back a year later (after their problems have resolved) complaining that we took advantage.

    Of course, we didn’t take advantage, but their needs have been met and their friends and family have asked probing questions.

    Yup, we need to be thick skinned and we need to get good testimonials when they’re in their “eternally grateful” state!

    • So true Karen. “Time” can do a lot of changing, including, like you said, changing things from “thank you” to “hey you took advantage of me”.

      This is one of the great things about buying foreclosures from the bank. They could care less, and I have yet to get a message or phone call from Bank of America or Wells Fargo criticizing me.

  3. It’s amazing that even though you think you’re going for win win, the other party may not think that way. Most of the time it works that way while other times, you just really don’t know. I have yet to have this happen to me, but definitely something to watch out for – especially of you have a blog forum where you discuss your deals, you have to be careful especially. Really solid post.

    • I think that is what took me by surprise most Mike, the fact I truly thought a ‘Win-Win’ was put together from both perspectives, but apparently the selling party ended up not thinking that.

  4. Can’t be helped. Was selling a tenanted house this year, and when I emailed the tenants to suggest that, rather than kick them out and spruce up the place, show it to prospects, etc while it’s vacant, I’d let them stay and coordinate viewings with them – even offered to compensate them for the hassle, and to top it all off, offered them to try and find buyers who’d let them stay (investors as opposed to owners occupiers) – AND offered a comission if they find one. The only thing was, I needed their answer within a week or two, otherwise I’d have to move ahead as planned (they’d already received the notice to vacate months earlier).
    The email I got back was venomous, accused me of “applying pressure”, and demanding I remove the vacating order “before they’d consider negotiation”. (Negotiation??? WHAT??? When did the house you lease become yours to negotiate anything over???)
    Needless to say, they ended up being vacated, as planned.
    I guess some people are just wired that way – they think everyone’s out to get them or, alternatively, that everybody owes them something.
    As long as we know, confirm and re-confirm our manner with objective others (as you’ve demonstrated perfectly above), I think we’re doing the right thing. But yes, it gets to you either way, doesn’t it?

    • “I guess some people are just wired that way – they think everyone’s out to get them or, alternatively, that everybody owes them something.”

      I think you hit the nail on the head Ziv. No matter ‘what’ is done, some people will simply fail to see it for what it is and will put a negative spin on it.

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