Making Your Enemies Work For You
Early on in my real estate investing career I came across a fork in the road in which I had to decide what kind of investor I wanted to be and what kind of business I wanted to run. On one road you adopt the larger than life Donald Trump persona and muscle your way to success – knocking down others along the way. No one loves you but, instead, everyone fears you. Used skillfully, fear and aggression can be an important tool towards real estate success.
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The other road is the exact opposite and entails using love and kindness as the building blocks of your business philosophy. Both methods are not mutually exclusive and you can argue that a mixture of both is needed to be successful in real estate. Both methods also have their own advantages and disadvantages and many investors have found success leaning towards one of the methods. As for me, I simply chose to follow the path that most resembled my own personality. Since then I’ve already started to reap the benefits.
“You Can Catch More Flies with Sugar and Honey Than with Vinegar”
On one of my recent flips I had an interesting situation occur. We had just put a house under contract and was set to close three weeks later. Everything was going fine except around the last week it became clear to me that for whatever reason, one of my private lenders would not have the money available to transfer upon the closing date.
This was fine with me as the worst case scenario was that I would pay out of pocket and be reimbursed with the lender funds a few days later. But, being the investor that I am, If I can prevent coming out of pocket even for a few days then I'm all for it. So, naturally, I started inquiring with the listing agent about extending and outlined my predicament.
Her response: “NO, THE SELLER IS READY WITH DEED AND TITLE AND THEY WILL NEVER APPROVE AN EXTENSION.” Hmm, Feisty, I thought but in the end what did I expect – I was asking for something that was pretty unreasonable. After that scathing response I informed her that we were set to close on the original date, sorry for the inquiry, can’t wait to get this house started, have a nice day, thank you!
Fast forward to closing day and it was the listing agent running around frantically asking me for an extension. As it turns out, the seller was not ready with the deed and title and in fact it sounded like it would take another week before everything was set to close. Obviously the urge to rub matters into the agent's face was extremely high and my own agent even recommended mentioning the fact that an extension was propositioned by my party a week prior. In the end, after much deliberation I decided to take the high road and simply smiled, agreed to a one week extension and opted not to bring up the past.
After the addendum was signed and sent off there was simply silence, no thank you, no response. Thankfully, the rest of the closing went off without a hitch and like clockwork we closed on the house a week later â needless to say it wasn't the most difficult closing I've had but it sure was frustrating working with a less than cooperative listing agent. In my earlier investing career I would have simply left it at that and went about my way. But, as you learn a few things about real estate investing you find out that it truly is a people business. So, my next step was something I think the realtor NEVER expected.
Love Thy Enemy
Sometimes the best kicks in life are from doing something nice and unexpected for people who may not deserve it. It's fun to sit back and see the magic that can arise from a simple gesture such as a thank you card. In this listing agent's case we took it a step further and sent her a personalized thank you letter along with a small gift card to a local eatery. We thanked her for her help with closing on the particular house and that we hoped she had a good experience and would consider working with us again in the future.
For a while we received no response and we simply forgot about it. We send out quite a few thank you cards in an effort to try to personalize the interactions we have with everyone we come in contact with. So, to not receive a reply was not unusual for us â we just chalked it up to her being a lost cause and moved on. But, to our surprise, the listing agent called us about three weeks later and ecstatically thanked us for the "wonderful" gift card and for being "easy" to work with on the last house. We made such an impression that she even took down the type of investment properties we were looking for and promised to get back to us if anything popped up. Since then she has sent us a few pocket listings and we've even made a few offers through her. Although we have yet to close a deal with this particular agent, she has followed up with us on occasion and I suspect we are getting close to completing a deal sometime in the near future.
What Did I Learn?
Life is too short to burn bridges and hold grudges over petty things. Also, making it a point to be vindictive is, in the long run, never as gratifying as taking the high road and trying to befriend your enemy. From my interaction with this listing agent I was able to focus my energy on being happier as opposing to stewing in my anger and resentment. I also like to think that I was able to change her life at least in how she deals with potential clients. Since the thank you gesture, her interactions with me and my team has always been very easy going and pleasurable. She’s gone from all caps, one sentence e-mails to rapport building phone calls and even commenting on my Facebook page. When I call and request info on a particular listing or need access to a house she makes a concerned effort to meet my needs and oftentimes I’ve been prioritized in her busy schedule.
So, how have you been building your local reputation? Are you seen as the high flying Donald Trump, controversies and all, or are you the good willed real estate investor who works to build relationships by finding common ground and reaching out? There are advantages of both but let me hear your story.