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Working with Non-Profits to Generate Short Sale Leads.
After my last two blogs.... (See Links Below)....
I had a couple request for some more information on just how I work with non-profits to actually generate a short sale lead. So, this blog will do just that. It will be a longer blog than what my readers are accustomed to but, it's going to be full of good information.
First off, I have to admit, this idea really isn't unique to me. In fact, this method was manifested between myself and a friend of mine who was already working with a home crisis center here in Tennessee. You see, they were having a problem with helping their homeowners who didn't qualify for any modification or home rescue program they had. Most of these people just ended up going into foreclosure and as many of you know, that wasn't what this non-profit wanted to see happen. In fact, their methodology, ideology and general operating standard was to move non-qualifying persons into short sale. They, themselves saw the benefit of short sale vs foreclosure and as such, elected to move these non-qualifying persons that route. The specific problem they were having was they couldn't find competent Realtors. In fact, it had gotten so bad and they had lost so many homeowners to foreclosure, they almost gave up the entire non-profit or at the very least, was debating to just dramatically reduce the number of people they were willing to help. This is where I came into the picture. To make a long story short, we turned it around and now, it's working very well for us all and in fact, we will be dramatically expanding with the help of a local bank.
So, based on my experience, you have two schools of thought. You can either start your own 501c3 based on rescuing people from foreclosure or, you can partner with a non-profit who is already doing just that. Now, the problem you will run into is, many of these non-profits will tell you that they can't have a preferred agent list or that they can't solely recommend you and that is for the most part, true however, not in all situations.
You see, many Realtors come to these non-profits with their hands out, like little birds waiting to be feed "free" leads and as such, these non-profits get nothing back in return. In essence, they are not willing to enter into an exclusive relationship because they have no benefit ...monetarily speaking. What I ended up doing was figuring out how these people got paid and from everything I saw, the grants they got were based on the actual number of people helped so, instead of coming to them asking for a lead handout and came to them giving them a lead handout. That's right, I flipped the script, which by the way, I am told I am good at.
What I mean by flipping the scrip is, I brought them leads. What I would do is, send out post card direct mailing to at risk neighborhoods...about 1000 - 2000 post cards at a time, so I was spreading a large net and out of those leads I captured, I referred them directly to my partner non-profit. This was great for them because, it ended up bumping up the number of people they helped and in return, increased their grant money. The deal was, every lead I send you....you must send back. Now, granted, I stayed in touch with my lead...I worked it, I emailed them, I called them, asked them how the loan modification was going or how the housing counselor was working with them so, they really didn't have to "send" anything back to me but, none the less, they knew if it was a Jesse G. lead, whenever the question came up about Realtor or real estate matter, the name Jesse G. flowed from their lips like milk and honey. In their mind, they weren't referring a Realtor, because the homeowner was already working with a Realtor (ME) when they sought out their assistance to save their home. So all they were doing was stating the fact back to the client, "Your Realtor, Jesse G. can help you with that." or "We will call your Realtor Jesse G. and let him know you are ready for short sale." etc...etc.... The best part was, they were happy to do that.
Now, the benefits to working with a non-profit that is already established seems pretty obvious to me but, let's go over some of those just to make sure you and I are on the same page.
Benefit # 1: No Cost
I had absolutely no out of pocket expense to get the full benefit of a certified, designated, industry respected home rescue non-profit to help my homeowners. This was by far the biggest benefit, it cost me nothing.
Benefit # 2: Risk Management
Honestly, short sales will always have risk to the Realtor doing them however, because I am not involved in any of the Loan Modification aspect and hence, the realization on the homeowners part that a short sale is their best option, my risk is dramatically reduced. You see, I don't find myself having conversation with homeowners as to why a short sale is the best option and that is because, they have already exhausted all their other options through the non-profit. In other words, I don't get into sticky conversations or strange situations where the homeowner may feel that I am out to just short sale and make a quick buck. This way, my risk is managed through the use of the non-profit.
Benefit # 3: Ready, Willing and Able to Short Sale
By the time the non-profit is done working with the homeowner and it's come to the fact that they will have to short sale, by this time, the homeowner is ready, willing and able to list the home. In fact, when working with a non-profit, my short sale listing average is about 97%. Yeah, that's right, 97%. This is because the homeowner is much more ready, willing and able once they have spoken to someone who doesn't have a financial interest in the sale of their home and still end up being told, you need to short sale. At this point, many homeowners see it as a no brainer. Now, granted, some just don't get it, about 5% are simply going to stay in the home, not cooperate, get foreclosed on, get an eviction notice and about 3 months later, the Sheriff and the REO Agent move all their stuff to the lawn and lock them out. This is rare but, not so rare that I haven't seen it happen. None the less, 97% of the time, I get the listing.
Benefit # 4: Banks Cooperate
Because the non-profit has already worked through the banks home rescue programs and because most of these banks have policies and procedures that benefit homeowners who work with non-profits to save their homes, these banks cooperate. In fact, most of the time, my homeowners who have worked with the non-profit almost seem to get preferred treatment from these banks in the short sale process. Now, I haven't figured out completely why but, I really think it has a lot to do with the fact that these banks are regulated to "help" homeowners and if the homeowner works with a nationally recognized non-profit, like the one I work with, all of a sudden, they look good. So, when it comes time to short sale, they have all the necessary documents, they have crossed all T's and dotted all the I's. This was by far the biggest surprise to working with a non-profit, banks cooperate with them better than they did me on my own.
Benefit #5: No Additional Commission Splits or Referral Fees or Membership Fees
Because I am generating these leads myself, through my own marketing, I don't pay anyone for being a member of this network or that network, I don't payout a referral fee, I don't additionally split my commission.....all that I make is all mine.
Benefit # 6: Additional Leads Direct from the Non-profit
After a while, the non-profit and I had lunch and we talked about helping out the leads that I didn't bring in but they end up getting on their own marketing. Now, granted, for these leads, I couldn't be their exclusive agent, they had me on a list of 2 other agents but, guess whose name was at the top of that list.......yep, it was mine. Now, granted, I had to go out and win the lead but, it wasn't hard. Now, I can't say that the non-profit talked my up because, I really don't know, I am not a part of those conversations with the homeowner but, that 97% listing ratio includes ALL leads, mine and those exclusive to the non-profit....you following me?
So, that's the jest of how I work with an existing non-profit in my area. Keep in mind, your success still depends on you and the marketing you do. Granted, my marketing is something I keep close to my chest but, if you want to learn a little more about what I use for marketing...and yes, I only use one marketing strategy right now and yes, it works well, email me directly and I will talk to you about it. No, this isn't a solicitation by the way, I will share my strategies for free, if you can do the same.