Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Diminutive Giant

Last night I watched a beautiful exercise in determination as the Astro's second baseman, Jose Altuve... all 5 ft 6 in Jose Altuve faced Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman. When Chapman takes the mound, it is usually the end for the opposing team. I won't go into the endless statistics available in modern day baseball, but when this man finishes the game, the Yankees usually win.

But this was not to be the case in Houston last night. Altuve was not intimidated by the size and reputation of the New York pitcher. He stood his ground in the batters box and when the ball came toward him, his bat cracked and the ball sailed over the outfield wall – and the Astro's were on their way to the World Series – and the Yankees were on their way home. Sorry to the loyal Yankees fans. NO... I can't do it. I'm not sorry.

How does this apply to real estate investing and what can we learn from this? Real estate investors are facing more competition from well financed hedge funds, realtors are advertising that they buy houses, and now even Zillow is getting into the act. Sure most of us still have our sources of funds and have our ways of contacting home owners who want to or need to sell their property.

We just have to find ways to relate to the sellers that the big money guys – even the better financed local boys – can't do. For example I bought one house for fifteen thousand less than a well known local investor because I listened to the seller. She needed to have money to move and could not wait until the house was rehabbed and sold even though it would have put more dollars in her pocket. Another time a lady sold me her home because I sat down and listened to her – instead of the self absorbed and self appointed big deal came in with his son and all he could talk about was what they were going to do to her home. Tear this out, move that and change the other thing. She felt like they rejecting everything she had done over the years and belittling her. 

A distressed house is still a distressed house, but there are real live human beings with feelings of their own living inside. Many are going through difficult times and are talking to us out of necessity. A little respect goes along way. We don't need to be intimidated by the big out of town investors. But we may have to work a little harder to be heard above the noise of TV commercials and ugly house bill boads.

We buy houses, but we also listen.


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