“I need to sell my house fast,” is something that you wouldn’t have thought to be a common phrase today, less known 20 years ago. I remember the first time I had the nerve to try my hand at flipping houses as I had a wad of cash and was preparing to ship out to […]
“I need to sell my house fast,” is something that you wouldn’t have thought to be a common phrase today, less known 20 years ago. I remember the first time I had the nerve to try my hand at flipping houses as I had a wad of cash and was preparing to ship out to a new Marine Corps duty station way over in Italy. The year was 2000 and the place was Pine Bluff, Arkansas. I was home on leave getting married to the mistake of my dreams, starring an uncertain financial future hopelessly in the eye. A financial future that many of us now have discovered and come to realize that what we thought to be financial security staring back at us was truly nothing at all. In America, no one is responsible for each and every one of our financial futures but each and every one of us. It takes time to learn that. But, I digress.
The Real Estate Market 20 Years Ago
One sunny Saturday morning back in 2000, I surprised the realtor. What he expected to meet was a wealthy investor, based on the amount of capital that was relayed to his secretary, and not some skinny kid cleanly shaved with a bunch of zeros in his account. No. No tycoon. Just a twenty-three year old, tech stock investing kid fresh from his last overseas duty station, on his way to another, wishing to dabble in this “flipping houses” business. So, when I met the realtor at one of the properties to be viewed that day, the shock and ego-bruising punch of capitalism struck the unsuspecting realtor by surprise. My age was an issue, but more so my way of doing business.
Cash Buying – A New, Exciting Concept
The concept of speed selling these particular houses that stayed on the market for nearly four years was new and practically unheard of in that community and time. I remember the realtor, only a few years older, not really grasping the concept or participating in the price negotiations. The haggling. The concept of quick, easy, clean cash in hand was totally missed on the poor fellow. It was frustrating. I was arguing, losing rather, the point that since each property was valued somewhere between 10-13K each and neither — land nor dwelling — were truly close to listed worth, my offer was worth a thought. I offered the realtor 10K for each property plus closing costs done that day! I figured it was worth a shot and worth the barter.
How the Hard “No” Helped Me
The saving grace of the lots was that they were all apart of the same city block that set across the street from this really good school that I attended during the elementary years of fourth, fifth and sixth grade. Now, the great dark and terribly great part of the situation for the greedy, money-grubbing little man that I embodied at the time, was that the properties were formerly HUD homes, repossessions, and drug dens before that. I could not get the realtor to budge on the price to save my life. This guy was strewed in his unwillingness to cooperate. He did not check with the client. He did not negotiate with the buyer. He just shut down and said, “No.”
In fact, whenever I gave classes on terrorism and negotiations throughout my military, government, and civilian-military contractor career, I referred to that realtor’s “no, I will not budge” attitude as the mindset you must always have but hide when protecting people and country! Much later in life did I learn that you should always ask why to any “no” that you receive. A lot of the times the answer behind the ignorance of “no” or the complete failure to properly communicate is this: “I don’t know why we do the things we do, it was explained to me as what we have always done.” I was reluctantly talked out of buying the properties by the type of spouse that’s no longer your spouse after so many opportunities like that are missed. But, I digress. Life! What are you going to do about it?
Fast forward 20 years later, and I am viewing the real estate market like that realtor viewed me: “what strange beast are you and what gibberish do you speak?” I am driving around the DC, Virginia and Maryland area that I, at the time, owned a home. And yes, still married to the same bad dream that was turning full nightmare as the economy was doing the same. In all aspects of life, there are always signs for us to ignore! Marriage. Finances. Health. Wealth. There are always signs and I, like most people, was busy ignoring them all!
Today’s Cash Homebuyer Market
In particular, the street signs that I saw on every street corner in three states that read the following: “Need to sell your house fast? We will buy your house! Any condition. No matter the lean. Now! Call now!” This is just about the time that the housing market crisis struck that area like a tidal wave and I was one of the poor souls who was swept up in it. I saw my neighbors moving their homes well before I moved in and I never asked why. People were selling their homes left and right and for cash no less!
There are always people who watch these financial markets and understand the meaning behind the hidden messages in their fluctuations. Although that 2008 recession was something of a different sort of beast, there were signs everywhere that the economy was facing a hardship. I had experienced the opposite of what I had experienced during the technology stock market bubble of 1998-1999 which was the last time the economy significantly stalled. I was on the other side of wealth this time. I didn’t say “I need to sell my house fast” anymore, but I know others who did.