Monica is a real estate agent, investor, and podcast host. Currently, she is focusing on helping other real estate agents perform at high levels, and helping their clients in the best ways they can. In order to do this, agents need to constantly be learning their market, and understand the real estate investing atmosphere around them, so that they can help their own clients with their portfolios. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!
Best Ever Tweet:
“Being a real estate agent is selling yourself, you have to go and ask for the business to get the business” – Monica Neubauer
Monica Neubauer Real Estate Background:
- Real estate agent since 2002
- Host of the Center for Realtor Development Podcast with NAR
- owns 2 rental properties and has helped more than a dozen investors buy or sell investment properties
- Based in Franklin, TN
- Say hi to her at http://funtentionalliving.com/
- Best Ever Book: High Performance Habits by Brendan Bruchard
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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, how are you doing? Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluffy stuff. With us today, Monica Neubauer. How are you doing, Monica?
Monica Neubauer: Hey, I’m great! Nice to be with you, Joe.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, nice to have you on the show. A little bit about Monica – she has been a real estate agent since 2002. She’s the host of Center for Realtor Development Podcast with NAR. She owns two rental properties and has helped more than a dozen investors buy or sell investment properties. Based in Franklin, Tennessee.
With that being said, Monica, do you wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your current focus?
Monica Neubauer: Well, my current focus is actually helping agents improve their businesses by helping their clients better. I do do a lot of speaking and training about that topic, and one of the things that I love telling agents and giving them the opportunity to learn about is actually investing in real estate… Because agents – they’re around that all the time, and I think it’s a great investment.
You mentioned I have two properties, and just a little bit about why do I just have two, or why don’t have more in this industry, when I have the opportunity… And for myself, my husband and I have been more financially conservative, and so we have bought as we’ve had the money. So like we buy our first home that we live in – it’s almost paid off – we save money, we buy rental properties, and we buy them with a short mortgage. Because our goal is retirement-focused for our investment properties. And I just think all real estate agents, because they’re in the industry, should be looking at buying or selling real estate themselves for their own purposes. So that’s just one of the things I’m passionate about now, among others.
Joe Fairless: Alright. And when you say you buy properties with a short mortgage, how short are you talking?
Monica Neubauer: Well, I have one on a 15, and one on a 20.
Joe Fairless: Okay, cool.
Monica Neubauer: In that case, young enough to look ahead and say “Hm, how many years do I have here?”, being attentive to it. And I put all my money towards getting it paid off.
Joe Fairless: Okay, so you do extra payments, or pay off more per month than what the mortgage is.
Monica Neubauer: Right.
Joe Fairless: Okay. So your primary focus is — I believe you said “helping agents help their clients”, right? So you help agents. Alright. What are some things that you tell agents, to help them perform better?
Monica Neubauer: Well, agents need to be running their real estate business like a business… And in that, while it’s perfectly fine to sell real estate generally, to anybody who wants to buy or sell, in any location within an hour of your house, that doesn’t help agents hone into what they’re really good at. So when I’m teaching and speaking with agents, I like to encourage them to look at their business as a business, what can they be really expert in – is it their town, is it a niche in equestrian properties, residential properties, neighborhoods, or investment properties? What are they really good at and what do they wanna keep doing?
Joe Fairless: Okay. And when you say “run their business like a business”, other than identifying what they’re an expert in, what are some other examples or ways that would play out to run your business like a business, and not a hobby?
Monica Neubauer: Well, it’s spending time in it every day, for one. When we focus on it as a business, that means coming to work, focusing on it, learning what’s so important on it; it’s about keeping up with your finances, recognizing profit, and where’s profit, and what’s the long-term gain. I want them to be in the market all the time. If it’s your full-time job, be in the market; be out there, learning about the new construction that’s happening in the area, be reading up on what are the current new listings on the market, go into classes, go into your office meetings and learning new things… Because the market is shifting and the industry is shifting. There’s so much change going on in real estate, and investing as well; we’re seeing international buyers… There’s just so much to learn, that I wanna see people taking that with purpose – what’s my purpose, where do I wanna go, how do I wanna get there, and what’s the way to get me there?
Joe Fairless: And when you mentioned “What can you be an expert in?”, you gave some good examples of different areas of expertise, like a certain neighborhood, or a certain niche, like equestrian homes… I should know this, but — I know equestrian are horses, right? But what are equestrian homes…? I should know this, but sorry for the ignorance.
Monica Neubauer: Well, equestrian homes, especially those in areas like Tennessee, Kentucky, even Colorado – they usually have property and we wanna know about if it’s fenced, and does it have a barn on it, does it have a stable? You care actually about the quality of the grass. Those are the kinds of things that I’ve learned being involved occasionally; I’m not an equestrian specialist. But in our area, we have agents who are niched in condos; there are some agents who just specialize in condos around the universities in Nashville. There are some who do the high rise condo buildings. There are some who do land, or rural land, or rural land for development. Those are a few of the niches that people easily get into.
But then you could also look at people’s needs niches. Some people love animals, so build your business around your love for dogs and cats, and network with other people who love animals as well, and what’s available in the community. So it could be either a housing niche, or a personality niche.
Joe Fairless: And when it’s the personality one, will you elaborate on how that plays out from a business standpoint?
Monica Neubauer: It plays out in kind of who you spend time with. If you have somebody who has pets, their housing style may not be the same… But when people have pets that are really important to them, they like to be with people who respect their love for their animals, and they’re gonna talk to them about where to find a good vet, and where are the dog parks, and have conversation like that; that becomes that core for community with the realtor and the seller or buyer… Which is so important, because when you’re spending all that time together, you wanna have some camaraderie and some rapport. So you have things like the animals… For a while, my husband and I had a Harley Davidson motorcycle, and we rode motorcycles, and I just enjoyed hanging out with those people so much for that season, and worked with a number of them… And that is a particularly loyal group, and they enjoy working with other people who have the same hobby. So then I could tell them about what are the great roads to ride on, what are the great towns to go visit. So for them, it was not so much my niche specialty in a house, but it was “Tell me how I can live my lifestyle in your area.”
Joe Fairless: Sure. That’s a really helpful example, because that certainly could be applied to any investor, whether they’re a real estate agent or not. If you’re looking for capital for your business, then focus on what you enjoy already, and then go get involved in the community and build a group of people around that thing you all collectively enjoy, and then it’s likely you’ll get some customers or clients as a result of that, right?
Monica Neubauer: Well, totally right. I was listening to one of your podcasts – today, actually – with Theo; you were talking about being intentional about networking with people who could be investors… And when you’re in real estate, honestly the world is your potential client. Anybody could potentially be someone who would buy or sell a property. But that doesn’t mean we necessarily want to or can focus on the whole world, as in every industry we have to focus on where we can meet the people and who are the customers that we wanna serve. So that comes into whether you’re in a Harley group, or you’re in a running group, or you’re in a moms group; whatever your group is where you’re connecting with people, you as a real estate agent can present that for the owner, purchase and sale, or introducing them to investors.
A number of the investors that I’ve worked with were first-time investors, so I would talk to them about buying an investment. Or you’re leaving your first home; why don’t you try and keep your first home, if you can afford to, when you buy your second home? I have loved teaching people how to invest in real estate, just in the normal course of the people that I serve.
Joe Fairless: Have you worked with first-time investors, as well as investors who have purchased multiple properties?
Monica Neubauer: Yes.
Joe Fairless: What are some questions that people who are investing for the first time ask, that people who have invested multiple times do not ask?
Monica Neubauer: Well, I’ve found that the first-time investor buyers – they have, as you mentioned, so many questions. They are concerned about renting it, and how hard is it gonna be to rent it… And it kind of depends on if they’ve had some training. If you have somebody who’s taken some classes, or read some books, they have a little bit more information and tend to ask better questions. But when you first start talking to them about it, they’d like to see how does the money pan out, so it’s good to have a spreadsheet (template) to show them… But it’s also about “Should I manage it myself? Should I get a property manager? What’s involved in getting a tenant in my place? Do I need to run a credit report? How do I do that?” Then they also wanna know about the lease. If I’m working with them, will I help them with the lease, or do they need to do that somewhere else? Those kinds of questions.
Joe Fairless: Do you enjoy working with first-time investors?
Monica Neubauer: I do, because I’m a teacher, so I love to see people grow in something new… So I do. [laughs]
Joe Fairless: Fair enough. And it’s probably rewarding as they come back for number two, number three and number four, that you’ve helped them along through the process, right?
Monica Neubauer: Right. And giving them some vision for something new, and help them believe that they could do something that maybe they didn’t think they could do, or they were afraid of it… And occasionally, they don’t love it; then they come back and they need to sell the property, or they’re done, or they had a bad tenant, or whatever… But I’ve never had them regret it. They still learned something, it was still interesting, or they were glad they tried it.
Joe Fairless: And from a teaching or development standpoint when you work with agents, you talked about running your business like a business and what can you be an expert in… What’s something else that you talk to agents about?
Monica Neubauer: Well, a lot of people come into real estate and they think about it as “I’m gonna start a second career.” Either they might be older in their lives, or they might want to have a little extra money, so they do like a side hustle, which that’s a little concerning to me, because there’s so much involved… So people don’t always think about where to get the business; they kind of think they’re gonna talk about it amongst their friends, and they’re just gonna start helping people and it’s just gonna fall into place. But being a real estate agent is selling yourself. You have to go and get the business and ask for the business, just like as if you were selling clothing or insurance, or whatever else. You still have to go out and sell yourself.
So a lot of agents struggle with the habit of building up that communication with potential buyers and sellers, and providing value in the marketplace, so that when they have somebody who wants to buy or sell, that they will contact them. Just being in touch and providing value. We talk a lot about that, and encouraging people to write blogs, or take good photographs, and connect on social media… Just to be always providing relevant and interesting information to people, so that when they have a real estate need they’ll call you, because they know you know what you’re doing.
Joe Fairless: Sure. And any tactical things you recommend to act on that advice?
Monica Neubauer: Well, I do have a few tactical things… [laughs] There are so many ways, and I would say once you decide “Okay, I need to make a plan to get business…” That’s where people really need to start; me just hoping it’s gonna fall out of the sky is not a plan. I think there’s a book “Hope is not a strategy.” Well, that fits in this situation. They need to make a plan; are they going to be calling people and having conversations on the phone? Do they want to send out information via an e-mail list, or provide market data, maybe on social media? They need to decide some way to communicate out into the community. And what is that gonna be? What’s a social media network that they love being involved with, or are they on a neighborhood HOA board? Where are they already involved with that they can provide value? Is that an email newsletter list to that group, or can they sponsor something where they can provide information? Can they start writing a blog and share the blog and relevant market information on their Facebook page? Do they love taking photos? Maybe they can build an Instagram account and have photos of their neighborhood, or favorite house styles that they like…
I know some agents will do regular happy hour events, and invite past clients or friends to come and network and connect with other people, and it’s sponsored by the real estate agent, so it just keeps her there, front of mind, and always meeting with people, but she’s providing value by encouraging this networking with people who wanna meet other people, which is especially relevant when you have new buyers who move into town.
Joe Fairless: Oh yeah. Very helpful. Based on your experience as a real estate agent and also an investor, what is your best advice ever for real estate investors?
Monica Neubauer: My best advice ever… Uuh. Okay… [laughs] I think my best advice ever is to make sure you as an investor know what you’re getting into. I would love it if every investor had a great network, a real estate investor’s network and a great agent that they trusted, who really were helping you and looking out for your best interests. But the fact of the matter is that an investor – it’s still their own money; they’re gonna be the owner of the house, they’re gonna be doing the repairs, or they’re gonna be hiring the property manager… So an investor needs to keep educating themselves about the process. “Where is the money going? What are the legal things? What are the landlord laws in my state?”
We have so many people ask us – and this is more from a buyer perspective, even though it’s an investor niche – about “What about those pre-foreclosures?” Well, pre-foreclosures are complicated things for people who don’t know what they’re doing, but investors who really dig in and learn it and know what they’re buying, it can be a really great thing. But if they’re relying on a real estate agent who hasn’t been trained in that, that could end up costing them money.
Joe Fairless: Sure.
Monica Neubauer: My best advice to investors would be to keep reading books, keep learning, go and talk to people at the county government office… If you’re gonna take this seriously, either keep it really simple, like I’ve done, maybe like a buy and hold, and just kind of let it appreciate over time, and keeping that money in your savings account as they pay down your mortgage, and if you’re even more conservative than me, you can get a property manager; if it’s out of town, get a property manager… That’s kind of the simplest way to do it.
If you wanna get more involved – and I know that you teach a lot of your investors about how to get more involved and have their own businesses, digging in with it – then they need to learn. They need to learn construction things. If your contractor is over there, learn some things from him/her, because you might need to step up and help them sometime when you get in a hurry. So just keep learning. If this is your business, this is your industry, it’s your money on the line, learn it.
Joe Fairless: Yup. And treating it like a business, and just becoming not a human being, right? Always becoming something else…
Monica Neubauer: Well, maybe it’s one of those times to not so be a human being. This is be a human doing in your business. [laughs]
Joe Fairless: Right, yeah.
Monica Neubauer: Just like being a realtor, being an investor, if you’re building it as a business, think about the income, the expenses, how can you improve yourself. They go together.
Joe Fairless: We’re gonna do a lightning round. Are you ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round?
Monica Neubauer: Oh, okay. A lighting round. I’m ready.
Joe Fairless: Alright, let’s do it. First, a quick word from our Best Ever partners.
Break: [00:18:44].24] to [00:19:25].25]
Joe Fairless: Okay, best ever book you’ve recently read?
Monica Neubauer: I’m reading “High performance habits” by Brendon Burchard right now to tweak some of my habits.
Joe Fairless: Good stuff.
Monica Neubauer: It is good stuff. I’m having to kind of dig in because I know some of it; I’ve got some of it going on, but I’m really getting some great reminders. He’s giving a couple of really good tips that I haven’t heard before. One of my favorites I’m trying to practice is the transition mentality.
Joe Fairless: What’s that?
Monica Neubauer: Well, I work in my house, which is fabulous, but what happens when I’m done working and I just go in for dinner, and go into my family part of my house? Am I taking any mind space to make a shift, or am I bringing my work attitude with me? So it’s that transition mindset, so I can be where I am, in the moment, right where I need to be.
Joe Fairless: That’s something I need to be better at, as well. I might check that out. What’s a mistake you’ve made on a transaction in real estate?
Monica Neubauer: I’m thinking of a situation where the negotiations took a strange bent…
Joe Fairless: Okay…
Monica Neubauer: [laughs] You know, something came up, it was unexpected, and…
Joe Fairless: What?
Monica Neubauer: It was a negotiation and the other agent had something that was not in the contract, that needed to be, and at the last minute her client was like “Well, I want this.” She hadn’t put it in, and so it wasn’t there, and her approach to me was — that’s where the strange part came in; she was saying “Well, this isn’t done and this isn’t done”, which are things that are not contractual. So it was kind of an assault on me, is what it was. And yet, what she needed really wasn’t difficult. My client could do it, it wasn’t a problem… But I got my own back-up. I was upset because —
Joe Fairless: Yeah… The approach she took?
Monica Neubauer: Right. She didn’t approach me with a genuine “Oh, we’ve got this issue. It’s important to my client. What can we do?” So not only did she not bring solutions, she didn’t come with a cooperative attitude of “Is there a way we can fix this? What can we do?”
Joe Fairless: Yup. So what was the mistake?
Monica Neubauer: Well, the mistake was the client had wanted some extra days after closing, and when we had created the second back-up contract, it wasn’t in there… And they wanted their extra days after closing for possession. And it really was easy for my buyer to do it, but the problem was — well, I mean she had her problems in that, but my own problem, that I have to own, was I got upset on behalf of my client, even though my client wasn’t upset.
Joe Fairless: Okay, fair enough.
Monica Neubauer: People need to remember that the real estate agents in the transaction have agendas. They shouldn’t. They should be neutral negotiators. But we have to remember that we’re all people, and there’s a lot of people in the negotiation.
Joe Fairless: What’s the best ever deal you’ve done, whether it’s with a client or one of your own?
Monica Neubauer: The best ever deal I’ve ever done… I’m actually in a transaction right now that I beleive is gonna go good. I’ll tell you what makes a good transaction, the ones that come to mind as far as good. It’s where everybody has a willingness to do something to help the transaction move forward. It’s just like me getting my backup with that really bad thing that I had done, and that many of us tend to do. The opposite is true – when everybody can come into the transaction with a cooperative attitude (“I’m not gonna dig in my heels”), those make the best transactions.
Joe Fairless: Best ever way you like to give back?
Monica Neubauer: Well, one of the things I like to do to give back – because I’m a speaker, I like to speak on behalf of organizations who need a speaker. Even just today, I was working on an upcoming presentation I’m doing for End Slavery Tennessee, which is a human trafficking organization; they work to educate and help reintroduce survivors back into a healthy environment in Middle Tennessee, and I’m doing a speaking session for them to eight-graders. How exciting is that, to be able to talk to young people about such an important message?
Joe Fairless: Yup. And how can the Best Ever listeners learn more about what you’ve got going on?
Monica Neubauer: Well, they can listen to the podcast if they have an interest in real estate outside of investing; it’s for realtors, but it’s about real estate, just living in the industry… It’s at crdpodcast.com. Or you can find me at MonicaNeubauer.com.
Joe Fairless: Monica, thank you for being on the show, talking about some things that real estate agents should know or should hone, one or the other. Also, talking about your approach for how you two are continually learning and developing as you go… Some really good things here.
Thank you so much, Monica, for being on the show. I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you soon.
Monica Neubauer: Alright, thanks Joe.