It’s confession time! I’m going to share more than I’ve ever shared about my life. Many people see us as very successful in Real Estate Team, when in reality…. We are just your average families, and know what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck. We’re far from lazy people and whether it’s about working (non-stop) or trying to give our kids better lives than we had growing up; let me start by saying that EVERYTHING I do is for my family.
Beginning in I.T. as a Systems Administrator, then going through the process of trying to get in as a longshoreman, doing longshore work at the Port of Tacoma for over 10 years, and lastly moving into the Real Estate field, which I’m still working to this day; I have focused on three (3) totally different careers, overlapping one another. I was all over the place, trying to wear too many hats at once. Don’t mistake being busy with being productive. I will say these were some of my most educational years and I learned what it’s like to fail my way forward! Another way to say this is to learn from your mistakes.
Believe it or not, less than five (5) years ago we were facing our own housing crisis! We had moved to desirable Browns Point from our previous home, here in NE Tacoma. Then, only a year later, things were not going as planned, the real estate bubble had popped and it was at record lows, and soon we were facing foreclosure on our previous home, which we were trying to rent out, and instead losing approximately $300 each month, while our ‘Interest Only’ home loan was becoming more and more upside down. Have you ever heard of Compound Interest? Compound Interest is a wonderful tool when you own stocks and your interest is compounding to make you wealthier and wealthier. However, it works the same way with debt. Banks compound interest on your mortgage or credit cards when you’re late and tack on fees and late charges, as well.
I had only closed 3 homes in 2010, as I was still somewhat new to real estate and the market was in the tank. We were living on our 401(k), which any financial adviser, or any common sense will tell you it is a major No-No! However, it was what had to be done if I was going to stick with real estate. I was working my tail off and it felt like I was only spinning my wheels. Finances were extremely difficult to find people looking to buy or sell! Therefore, we began the Short Sale process in October of 2011 and it took approximately a year and a half before the Short Sale was FINALLY was finally approved in April of 2013.
Believing heavily in part of our Keller Williams culture, we are taught to come from contribution, and that’s what I was doing. When you’re at your lowest, I highly encourage you to do something for someone else! At the same time, take care of yourself first and make sure you’re going to have the funds for you and your family to be able to afford it!
Not planning accordingly, I wanted to ‘come from contribution’ and do something for someone else in hopes those people would all find a way to Pay it Forward and the world would become a better place! I spent A LOT of time and money putting together a program to donate to local food banks. I had purchased two gigantic kids bounce houses, and rather than renting it for money, we only asked that parents brought canned food or non-perishable food items in exchange for the use of the bounce house for the day.
This doesn’t mean things were better. Finances were dwindling, and I like to say, “The income isn’t keeping up with the out-go”, meaning… Thanks to my clever and creative ideas, we were NOT making as much as we were spending. We were falling behind on our home mortgage for the home we lived in. We received a foreclosure notice in early 2014 for our FOREVER HOME! I was determined not to lose our home and we went through the process of a wonderful program, called the ‘Home Loan Modification’, which was being offered to many people to get back on their feet and lock in at a lower interest rate. UNFORTUNATELY, our bank did not approve us. We would not give up! Time was of the essence and we knew that if we did not ACT FAST, our forever home was going to be sold on the courthouse steps to the highest bidder at the Foreclosure Auction. We went through the process of escalating the issue and writing letter to Congressman Adam Smith. That is probably the best thing we could have done because on September 23rd, 2014, we received a letter saying “Good News! Your mortgage has been permanently modified.
The lesson I learned from this is that it’s important to ACT QUICKLY and DO NOT WAIT! Don’t play the victim, and if you want something done, it’s in your best interest to MOVE ON IT!!!
Since what seemed like a dilemma in our lives, we’ve built our team, called Homes on the Sound; made great hires and some “not so great” hires. We’ve lost some truly wonderful hires, in the process, although right now we have a fabulous team and we have hefty goals in place. I believe I speak for most business owners when I say it’s important to always know your numbers. From only selling three (3) homes in our 2nd year, and eight (8) homes by our 3rd year, we were able to create the dream of homeownership for 77 new homeowners last year. This year, our goal is to help people into 86 OR MORE new homes.
Our team has read a fabulous book, called ‘Raving Fans’ and learned to listen to what people are NOT Telling Us. Don’t try to do everything and be EVERYTHING for everyone.
- Some tips to create Raving Fans:
- Listen to what clients want and also make yourself aware when they are NOT giving you feedback. What are they not telling you?
- Give back in whatever ways you can; to your clients, the industry, community, and society as a whole! As Keller Williams Realty would say, “Come from contribution!”
- Know your competition and offer more to your clients by going above and beyond in your customer service and their customer experience!
- Always leave your clients in a better place!
- Reward the referrals! That’s the lifeline of your business!
- Run your business in and open and transparent way!
There are so many more failures we’ve gone through, which I’m going to spare you the details. If there’s ONE THING, I’ve learned through our mistakes, it’s to learn by your mistakes and keep moving forward. Never get discouraged by failure and instead ask yourself how you’re going to improve for next time.
This has not been an easy journey. We’ve faced tough times from being broke while pushing through our failures and learning by them, avoiding foreclosures by scraping by, along with great team members coming and going.
Our passion is to make the Puget Sound the best place to live… One community at a time!
If you’re having a tough time, ACT QUICKLY and when you’re at your lowest, DO SOMETHING for someone else. I think you will truly find that it’s MIRACULOUS what will come from it! As much as we were struggling only a short time ago, it was such a sigh of relief to be able to help people who were in dire need. It was an incredible feeling to deliver truck loads of food to the St. Leo Food Connection.
If I had it all to do over again, I would choose to learn by those who went before me and join a team.
If there’s any advise I can give to anyone planning to get into real estate, it would be this:
- Work hard to maintain a work-life balance
- Focus on ONE THING and read the book.
- Find a mentor and/or coach to teach and train you.
- Join a team before trying to become a Solo-Agent. In other words learn by those who came before you.
- Don’t expect to get rich quick in real estate because there is A LOT more that goes on behind the scenes than what people see, and you’re in for a surprise if you think it’s fast money.
- There are ups and downs in the market and the business. Stay consistent!
Thanks for listening!
David Berg | Managing Broker | REALTOR ®
Homes on the Sound
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