An Appropriate Time to NOT Be Polite

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I had planned on writing about something else, but I’ll save that for another time as I’d like to address a new issue… that I unfortunately just lived through. As in literally a couple hours ago (at the time of this writing).

The Scenario: The Great Wholesale Deal 

This morning (Thursday) I had some coffee with a real estate investor I do quite a bit of business with, and the purpose of the meeting was to talk about another possible strategy that we could utilize.  Through setting up the meeting (Tuesday evening) he mentioned he had gotten a solid property under contract that he’d be looking to wholesale. After doing some quick analysis, I could tell it was a good deal, but figured, “Hey, I’ll pick his brain a bit more about it when we meet.”

The morning of the meeting (a couple hours ago as of this writing) we are sitting in his office sipping our coffee and talking about the house he has and the potential exit strategies and his phone rings. I do my best not to ease drop, but when it’s happening 4 feet away from you, sorta hard not to do. The conversation wasn’t sounding too promising for me.

He hangs up the phone, apologizes and says, “sorry, it’s gone now.” Ah man!! Stupid me!

I can’t be mad at the guy. He told me and the other guy about it, and the other guy pulled the trigger before me. Good for him, stupid on my part! From a wholesaling perspective, he had every right to tell MORE people than just me and the other guy, so I had no room to complain. Business is business, I hesitated, and it cost me a good deal.

What If…

On the way home, as is probably human nature, I started to go through the “what ifs” in my head. The one that stuck out was, “What if I had gotten coffee with him sometime yesterday?” I would have easily beaten that phone call and had the deal for me.

Lessons Learned from My Lost Real Estate Deal

  1. Don’t be so polite! There is always a place for politeness, but I should have just causally asked, “Can you do coffee any sooner?” Worst he would have said, is “no, my schedule is completely booked.”
  2. Don’t get lazy… even if it is around the Holidays. It’s Real Estate Investing 101 that when you have a good deal, you need to get moving on it. Even though it was just a day, this goes to show  you how fast deals can move.
  3. Learn from your mistakes. I’m still working on this lesson as I type, but this was clearly a mistake, so I need to learn from it. I’m hoping that part of the learning process is me doing this public article and sharing it with everyone.

The Bottom Line

Whenever there is a deal involved, get a bit pushy with things. I’m not saying be rude and unprofessional, but as I’ve already discussed, being “pushy” in my case would have been a simple question of seeing if the coffee sit-down could have been any sooner.

When a deal is really a deal, it’s obvious (especially if you have stress-tested it), so as cliche’ as it may sound, you can not hesitate.

I know this article is pretty short and basic, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen a deal disappear, literally, before my eyes as I’m talking about the deal. Not only does it provide a good lesson, it is keeping me accountable to learn from this. Hopefully a win-win for us all!

Have you ever had something like this happen to you? Ever hesitation in one way, shape or form that ended up costing you a deal? What did you learn from it? Share your comments below! After this experience, I’m very curious to see if anyone has ever been in my shoes before.

Photo: Martin Fisch

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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.

41 Comments

  1. Clay-

    I think we have all had this happen to us, and it is just maddening that we didn’t move more quickly. But the good news is that we don’t usually make this same mistake too many times do we?

    • Hi Sharon, I truly hope I don’t make this same mistake twice! Nothing like having a deal evaporate right before your eyes.

      You’re right though, as long as we learn from these sorts of things, their probabilities of happening again are reduced.

  2. Melodee Lucido on

    Hi Clay,

    This is a good article and I bet that almost everyone that has been doing real estate for a little while has had a similar experience.

    In 2003 I lost a great deal that was a preforc. I went to the family’s house to talk to them about their options—it was going to the auction in 8 days. I had a rehabber in place—there was LOTS or margin (remember those days?) it was in a growing area in Oxnard, Ca.

    After I shared with them the possibilities he seemed like he wanted to go with my offer—then he said the dread words, “Let me think about it; call me in the morning” I asked him if I hadn’t explained everything clearly—no, he was clear, he just wanted to think about it til morning.

    It was about 3:30 in the afternoon—it would probably work out I thought.

    Next morning I thought well, I don’t want to be too pushy; I’ll give him time to have his coffee. I don’t want to seem desperate (and all the other stupid thoughts that delay success). I called him at 10:30 and . . . yup . . . you guessed it . . . it was gone.

    Another investor had called him later that night and asked for an appointment in the morning.
    They had met at 9a.m. and the deal was done before 10. I had probably warmed up the seller for the next investor who swooped in and got the gold.

    I don’t beat myself up (too often) because that was my first time ever to sit down at the kitchen table and do a presentation. Maybe i was weak. I had never even actually seen a presentation; I just wanted the deal—bad.

    Same as you Clay, maybe I was too polite :<

    What I don't understand about your almost deal is—-the guy didn't have it under contract before telling you? You both knew it was a sweet deal but you were brainstorming? I'm not clear. Course now, if I find a good deal here in Santa Barbara you do NOT want to be in my path cuz you might accidently get run over. lol

    Thanks for the reminder to RUN don't walk to get things in contract that look like the next fun deal.

    Happy holidays!

    • Ahhhh Melodee! That is a bummer (but, if I’m honest, makes me feel better in the sense I know I’m not the only one who hasn’t experienced this).

      He did have the property under contract. The exit strategy thing was something totally different and us just talking “in general”. I do lots of business with this person so we’re always talking over real estate and its possible strategies.

    • Thanks for the reassurance Brandon. “Misery enjoys the company of others” (or something like that), so glad to hear others have been in my shoes.

  3. Clay, it happened to me for the first time tuesday, it was a dream deal. I have been searching (working) hard to find 60 to 100 rolling acres with hardwoods, a Cabin and lake if possible. If not i would build the cab and lake, just needed the property. This was for personal property, which made it even worse, (you know the whole emotional thing) Well the property matched all my criteria and then some, had two lakes two cabins he dropped price 80k and offered to owner finance. We got every thing together last weekend and all agreed to do the deal monday, and escrow my down payment till title search was complete. My fax/scanner broke sunday, so i put it off till tuesday, because i was to lazy to go buy a fax… We all spoke monday and everything was a go. Tuesday a.m. i got a call from the seller, who informed me he didn’t sleep well, because he loved his property and had decided not to sell. This was the hardest blow ever in years of buying real estate. i also learned that i have been doing this for over ten years an have become to laxed, i would have never done this in the early years. I would buy ten fax machines to turn this around. The reason i type this long post is to show, you may be experienced and a little successful, but you never outgrow the basics. If that 1 in 100 comes your way, treat it as your first. i would have most likely let him out of the agreement anyway, but the chases of him asking would have been slim, if he new deal was done.. Hope everybody has a Merry Christmas, and please remember who’s birthday we’re celebrating

    • “You never outgrow the basics.”

      Nice! I like that saying a lot. Simple, but extremely accurate and true.

      A little side suggestion regarding fax. There really isn’t need for fax machines anymore. You can Google something like, “online fax” and there are a ton of sites that scan things through the internet and they show up as a fax on the other end. All you need is a scanner to get the images on your computer. Just an FYI…

      • Clay, its funny you bring that up.. The realtor said same thing. I rarely do much in the office and i’m about computer illiterate, but manager setting us up that way now. Thanks for the info

        • Nice! I can see how it may be a bit intimidating at first, but after you get it all set-up and do a couple “test-runs”, it’s extremely convenient.

  4. Great post, Clay! When an opportunity appears, you’ve got to jump on it . . . especially when you’re out looking for those opportunities. I think this will serve as a great lesson for our newer readers. Thanks for the share!

    • Thanks Josh.

      For the newer readers, this is definitely a “do as I say, not as I do” type situation. A simple, yet hard lesson to be learned for sure!

  5. Hi Clay, this happens to every investor sooner or later. I take the stand (philosophy) that it probably wasn’t as great a deal as I thought it was and their’s a better one down the road. Otherwise, I would be very p— off on the ones that I missed like the 3 commercial properties at 30 cents on the dollar and triple in less than 2 years, one went from $4,000 to over $25,000 in just two months. Another one I could have bought for $20,000 sold for over $100,000 a year later.

    • Jim – this is why I love real estate. Good deals may be hard to come by at times, but as long as you continue to put in effort, there WILL be another good deal eventually.

      I’m not a believer in the “once-in-a-lifetime” type deal. Sure, there are great deals, but, there will always be another great deal. Just need to keep the ax to the grindstone.

  6. I believe everyone must have this situation once in a while… But Im not clear about what you tried to say about if he told you one day before just as Melodee Lucido from the first comment… If you spoke with him before you would have jumped him and get the deal or partner with him?

    When I loose some offers that I really want, I try to be more careful when I analyze them… Still I really think that there are investments, properties or situations that are just not meant to be bought or seen by someone… It will come to you if you are consistent in the learning process and enjoy it as much as possible.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Thanks for the comments Jose.

      I was originally meeting up with the guy to discuss ideas for different exit strategies. While I was setting up this meeting, the deal arose, so I just figured I’d talk about the deal as apart of the original meeting. This was my mistake… whoops!

  7. Good perspective Clay! I think I can even add a bit of a flip to your advice about not always being polite that I’ve learned in my experience and tell other investors. I’d say a huge obstacle oftentimes in REI is the people. Especially when it comes to the fast-moving mass sellers. Sometimes the mass buyers, the experienced guys, etc. Some of the best investment properties are sold by guys who really know what they are doing, they sell fast, they are swamped with buyers, and can barely think straight. This usually means that their ‘customer service’ is either minimal or non-existent. It’s part of the nature of the REI game. I have a lot of investors who have either bailed out of a property or hesitated just because of a feisty seller. While I get that their feelings may have been hurt, I try to explain that the people don’t matter if the property is a good investment. So while you point out that sometimes you may need to be impolite, I want to add and say that you also can’t get put off by impolite people in this industry (scammers excluded of course). The numbers are all that matters! Once you own the property, who cares if you liked the seller.

    Moral of the story- numbers trump personality! But of course if you can find the good personalities, that is a bonus and preferred, but don’t back out of a property because the seller is impolite.

    • Ali – excellent points! In fact, that would be a great blog post. I don’t want to steal your thunder though, so it’s all yours if you want the topic.

      If not, I’d love to write about it as you are right, while you should try and be as polite/professional as possible, you shouldn’t judge others by those standards as long as they are bringing good deals.

      Thanks!

  8. Clay you are not alone. This post should be filling up as I am sure most investing in real estate have experienced this one time or another & it will probably happen again as you do more and more deals.
    I recently was presented with and incredible deal & I asked the wholesaler if he could give me one day to put together a pro forma for my investor and raise the money for the commitment. I knew he could of easily made a call right after me and sold it to the next guy. He was true to his word and I was to mine. I got a commitment from my investor & signed a letter of intent the next day as promised.
    It never hurts to ask.

    • “It never hurts to ask.”

      Perfectly said. The Risk vs. Reward is always in your favor when you just ask. Worst that can happen, they say “no”. Best that can happen, you up your odds of landing a smoking hot deal.

      Thanks for the comment Michael.

  9. To all of you shoulda, coulda, woulda’s – how do you know for certain that these lost deals worked out so great for the guy who beat you to it – maybe it was a blessing in disguise – move on to the next deal.

    • Paul, though your comment is credible, and most definitely falls under the correct post, my answer would be, Experience and Knowledge, my guess would be there’s allot of that commenting on this and how we learned from it. I do agree we’ve lost some, that i’m sure for some reason or another, it was a blessing. But, if your “seasoned” you can confidently say, you know when you dropped the ball. Have a Merry Christmas, and thanks for the comment, it does make you look at it from a different angle…

      • Thanks for the thoughts Paul.

        You are right, maybe it was a blessing in disguise.

        But on the other end of the spectrum, “maybe it was a really really good deal like my spreadsheets said it was”.

        I agree with you, no point in beating a dead horse, investors need to move on and not harp on the past; however, as the saying goes, “history is a great teacher”, so I believe spending some time to talk about it is beneficial.

  10. My biggest lesson learned-
    Occurred when contacting listing realtor to make an offer on a property.
    Day 1: I met with realtor at 4:00pm to view the property. Property was in active status with no offers pending at the time.
    Day 2: Starting the next morning, I placed three separate calls to realtor (8:00a, 1:00p, and 4:00p). No answer, but I left a voice mail each time stating that I would like to submit an offer on property.
    Day 3: Spoke to realtor at 10:00am with the intent to submit an offer and was told that the seller had accepted an offer submitted on the day before (the day I’d left several vm with no response.) After about 10 min of questioning her actions, professionally, I decided to move on and wished her the best of luck in the future.

    Lesson learned…Keep it business, stay persistent and move forward! I found an even better deal a few weeks later.

    • Ugggg… those stories always upset me, but that’s a great example of why relationship building is so important. That would be the additional ‘lesson learned’ I would add to your list.

      It sounds to me like that Realtor already had an investor “buddy” in mind for the property and was simply buying time on Day 2 avoiding your call.

      I’d call back up the Realtor and say, “Hey, do you work with investors? If so, I’d like to take you out for coffee and discuss how we can work together.”

  11. It happened to me so often I picked up my real estate license so I could move as quickly as possible without having to wait for anyone. Still, it takes time to do due diligence and to sometimes to convince my partner (wife :)). Personally, if I’m sitting down and talking with someone about a deal and they take a call, I’d be offended. That’s just terribly rude. I don’t think I’d let it go without a fight or at least letting him know that I’m not impressed.

    • Alan, I like the way you think in regards to the obtaining your license (same reasons I did).

      As far as the professionalism, I wasn’t offended by it. Him and I have a good relationship and I was one of two people he had shared the deal with. At that point in time, he didn’t know if I was going to buy it or not, so I don’t blame him for taking the call. I would do the same thing. Reason being? If I was in his shoes, I would be thinking, “Well, I don’t know if Clay wants it yet, and I see the ‘other’ investor calling in, so I don’t want to not pick up and then have him call someone else and buy their deal.”

  12. Yup, been there too, and more than once, since in Japan, these deals are actually snatched in a matter of hours – often within the first hour, in fact (probably something to due with the sheer size of the market, as there are no state divisions, so we operate nationwide.
    I always tell our new clients that the key to getting the best deals out there is to give us (the buyers agent) the leeway to automatically submit a reasonable offer on anything that we believe suits their criteria, with up to 10% flexibility in price, yield and geographic proximity – as opposed to having to get their approval before acting.
    They rarely take us up on it, understandably, wanting to test the waters hands-on with a new provider like us – but once they approve a few offers, only to find that someone else snatched them five minutes after the listing was advertised or emailed to private seller lists, they quickly change their tune :)

  13. “Sorry to interupt but you should let him know you have someone sitting in the office ready to sign a contract now for $1,000 over asking price.”

    The time to be a little “rude” would have been during that conversation as you watched your profit getting flushed down the toilet.

    Maybe you would have still lost out but you could feel you did put your best foot forward and the wholesaler would be happy since he would have ended up with at least $1K more than he had expected, maybe a lot more if you guys got in a bidding war.

    • Shaun, good point!

      As I mentioned though, I did my best to not ease drop (again, maybe I should be rude “and” ease drop?), so I wasn’t exactly sure what the conversation was about.

      Either way, I see what you are saying and it is a very valid point.

      Thanks for the comment.

      • You’re not eavesdropping if he takes the call right in front of you, especially during your scheduled meeting. That’s your time. The lack of discretion was your friend’s, not your own.

        As a wholesaler myself, I don’t know why you were talking to him about that property in the first place. I wouldn’t even meet if a buyer wanted to waste my time like that. Either buy it, negotiate it, request specific info, or wait til something comes along that you can be decisive about.

        As to bone-headed moves, I’ve always been very careful to avoid them. ALMOST always. One fine day I wrote down a wrong foreclosure sale date. A week later my seller called me because there was a guy at the door saying he had just bought the place at the auction. Turned out he really had.

        Oops. :-(

        • Chuck – Thanks for the comment.

          The point of the meeting was NOT to discuss the wholesale property. Me and this wholesaler do lots of business together, so the meeting was originally intended to discuss other possible exit strategies we could use. From the article,

          “This morning (Thursday) I had some coffee with a real estate investor I do quite a bit of business with, and the purpose of the meeting was to talk about another possible strategy that we could utilize.”

          Anyway you slice it though, it was a mistake on MY part, hence the point of this article. I think the majority of us are in the “ALMOST always” category of not making mistakes, but hey, it does happen.

        • Hi Clay. I knew your meeting was to generally strategize, but the article goes on to say that you were “talking about the house he has and the potential exit strategies” during which time he got the call and told you, “sorry, it’s gone now.”

          I suggest that when a wholesale deal is available, don’t “talk about it” – just get the info, analyze it, then pounce, negotiate, or pass. Anything else is irrelevant and thus a waste of time.

          As to exit strategies, a wholesaler only needs to know yours if they affect the type of property or situation you want, or if you are buying properties together.

          I also suggest that the solution isn’t to be “less polite”, because you already did that. Your guy put you at the front of the line on a new property before he blasted it to his email list or his Twitter. It was impolite to NOT get back to him about it right away, since he’d let you know right away that it even existed.

          Now realistically, that house was a separate issue from your days-later meeting, thus your what-if question should have been: “What if I’d called him for the lockbox code the moment I finished my analysis?” Wholesalers like that. We really do. (Unless it’s 2:am.) Then his last memory of you would be that you struck quickly and bought his latest property. The extra credibility would have made your days-later meeting go better even while discussing other subjects.

          I doubt he knew you even wanted the place until sometime during that meeting, by which time the other guy was days ahead of you. That’s why your wholesaler let it go so quickly and easily, right in front of you. You weren’t even in the game. Sorry, but you really weren’t.

          You could probably call him, apologize for not getting back to him right away, and generally get HIS take on the situation. Just be sure he knows you’re NOT asking him to keep you at the front of the line right now, even though he likely will because overall, you must have been a good buyer.

          After all, your deals have until recently been so easy and gone so smoothly that they concealed the fact that you never really understood the wholesaler’s perspective. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, especially since you’re sincerely trying to course-correct now that you saw a problem.

        • Chuck, you’re making more ASSumptions than I care to cover/correct.

          With that being the case, I’ll just say ‘thanks’ the for comments and I wish you all the best for the New Year :-)

        • I was just trying to help, based on the information in your article. But on further reflection, I think you should keep doing it your way.

  14. Good topic, as a listing agent I get pushy Buyers agents that at the moment can be pesky, but considering how many cash buyers are in our market right now and how fierce competition is, I respect their ability to push through and either bow out, up the offer, and/or be the squeaky wheel. I never fault anyone for being assertive to get a deal done!

    • Tracy, I completely agree with you. Being assertive is never a bad thing, but for me, there ‘is’ a line that can be crossed. That’s just my personal take though, and to state the obvious, everyone is different, so that line for each one of us will be at various locations.

      Thanks for the comment.

  15. Melodee Lucido on

    Wow Chuck Prime! If you were Clay’s personal crei coach and knew every detail I could see you making some of the comments you made—but even so, doing it in private & in person (on phone) would be more appropriate.

    But that’s not the case. I will be polite here, in light of the thread, and quote Abe Lincoln, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Abe Lincoln.

    I’m just sayin’

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