February 21, 2021

JF2364: How To Go From A Commission Chaser To A Problem Solver With John Chin #SkillsetSunday

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John cut his teeth as a traditional real estate broker. He escaped the “hamster wheel” of chasing sales thanks to a mentor who put him on the fast track to investing. That paradigm shift made him see licensed agents as problem-solvers for homeowners rather than just salespeople.

Now John teaches real estate agents how to leverage their license into creating 8-10 various income streams as opposed to relying on commission alone. In this episode, he talks about his lead intake process that helps licensees make the most out of their leads.

John Chin Real Estate Background: 

  • John and Ron are the founders of Investor Agent
  • Together they have done 2,800 rentals and flip properties (mostly short sales, foreclosures, and REOs)
  • Closed over $260 Million in residential investments
  • He currently manages over 470 cash flow rentals
  • Based in Orlando, FL
  • Say hi to him at www.investoragent.com 

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Best Ever Tweet:

“You’ve got to look at your listing as just one tool in your tool chest. It’s not the main driver of your business ” – John Chin.


Theo Hicks: Hello, Best Ever listeners, and welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Theo Hicks, and today we’ll be speaking with a repeat guest, John Chin. John, how are you doing today?

John Chin: I’m doing awesome, man. Thanks for having me again.

Theo Hicks: Yeah, no problem. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. And today being Sunday, we’re going to be doing a Skillset Sunday. We’ll talk about a specific skill set that can help you in your real estate business, and we’re going to talk about how you can go from being a real estate agent who chases commissions to being a real estate agent wolf. John’s going to explain what that means, where the word wolf comes from, because he told me a really funny story before we got on. I want him to tell again where it came from, to have this concept hit home for you. Before we get into that, a refresher on John’s background.

He is the founder of InvestorAgent, and InvestorAgent has done 2800 rentals and flips, mostly short sales, foreclosures, and REOs, closing over 260 million dollars in residential investments, and currently manages over 470 cashflow rentals. He’s based in Orlando, Florida, and the website is investoragent.com. So John, do you mind telling us a little bit more about your background and what you’re focused on today?

John Chin: Yes. I cut my teeth in traditional residential real estate mentor brokerage. Then, like a lot of us who end up in the investment business, where we’re flipping houses, buying rental properties, building cash flow portfolios, and serving investors to do the same thing, there was a pivotal relationship in our past – we met somebody, and they kind of set us on a fast track of doing deals, and kind of got us off of that. We call it the sales hamster wheel, where you are in perpetuity unemployed and chasing the next closing or closings. So I was fortunate enough to have that kind of relationship, and pivot the trajectory of my real estate career to actually doing deals, and then using my license as a way or just a tool to solve problems for sellers. So it’s kind of a paradigm shift.

That whole wolf story came from Pulp Fiction, where we kind of liken ourselves to one of the characters in Pulp Fiction, Mr. Wolf. Anybody who’s listening who saw that movie, there was that accident in the back of the car, they ended up at Quentin Tarantino’s character’s house, and he was going through the roof, he was upset because he had a dead person in his garage… So the boss guy sent his problem solver to the house to fix that problem, and his name is Mr. Wolf. He shows up in the tuxedo at the front door, and he says, “Hi, I’m Mr. Wolf. I solve problems.” And he comes in and cleans up the whole situation. So that’s what we kind of do for sellers.

I think the biggest paradigm shift I had that helped me transform from being somebody who just tried to chase more closings and more listing and buying commissions, to somebody who was actually building wealth, was the paradigm shift from being a salesperson to being a true problem solver for homeowners or property owners. This means that you go from only being able to make money one or two different ways as a licensed salesperson, to actually being able to make money maybe eight to 10 different ways on a property, while solving problems for homeowners that are a little bit more flexible, that most licensed agents can’t do. So you end up making more money, you end up getting more deals for yourself, and you end up solving more problems for sellers.

Theo Hicks: Perfect. Then you were talking about in order to start this process of solving the homeowner’s problem is to properly doing the seller intake. You talked about a form that you have, that people use. Can you explain at what point of the process is this used? Is it when I find a lead? And then maybe tell us what people usually do if they’re not doing seller intake.

John Chin: If you get into the mind of a traditional licensed agent who’s working what we call the retail business,  that’s all they do exclusively – they work with buyers and they work with sellers. When you talk to a homeowner in that space, what you’re trying to do is turn that phone conversation into a listing presentation or an appointment at the seller’s house or at your office to list their property. And to do a CMA form a lot of times, you do your formal listing presentation… Basically, how I can help you sell your house as quickly as possible, for the highest net proceeds as possible, that’s kind of the goal.

Everybody heard the expression, if you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Well, everybody looks like a nail to a licensed commission salesperson who’s just trying to do that all day. So we bring in this process like the number one thing that helps you shift from being a commission earner to being a problem solver dealmaker is when you do that initial intake call a little bit differently.

So if you just do this one thing really well, number one, you’re going to look a lot different to that seller… Because most people aren’t coming to them as an advisor/consultant capacity. What they’re really trying to understand from that seller, “Look, you’re at point A right now and you’re trying to get to point B in your life, and your house is a mechanism to help you get there.” That’s the difference, the way you’re looking at that situation with the seller, as opposed to somebody who says, “Okay, I know you’re just trying to sell your house as quick as possible, for as high proceeds as possible.” That conversation looks different than the former. So if you do a proper, what we call a lead intake consultation with the seller… And this is the template that we use. I’ll kind of walk through what we’re trying to accomplish in that template. But it’s just a different line of questioning.

If you follow that line of questioning in a specific chronology or a specific order, then number one, you’re going to sound like a consultant, a lot different than most agents, because you’re really trying to get deeper into the life situation of the seller. Then the house just becomes a tool or a mechanism to help them get from point A to point B.

Theo Hicks: That makes sense. Let’s talk about this lead intake consultation form. So just explain, if you’re on the phone with the seller, do just read straight through it? Or is there I guess a script that you do? Or is it like, if they say this, then you say this, like a logic tree type of deal? How does it tactically work?

John Chin: Okay, so it’s a worksheet. And I always have a paper copy printed up, and it’s a front and back worksheet. So I literally can just print one up and I can fill out the front and I can fill in the back. All of the students that we work with, our trainees and our licensed agents that we support, they literally fill this out, take a picture of it, the front and the back, and then they can send it off, and now we can huddle to figure out how to best solve a problem or turn that into a deal. Or maybe it’s a better short sale listing, or maybe it’s a better traditional listing… But the sheet helps you get there, to that if-then prognosis, if you will.

So to answer your question, you just start at the top of the sheet, you go down and you just fill in the blanks. Now, the blanks just prompt you of the type of information you want to ask. As you get skilled at using the sheet, the second and third-level type questions will follow the answers you get from just the blanks. In other words, the sheet serves as a wedge for you to get what we call first-level answers from these sellers.

For example, I could ask you, “Why are you selling the property?” and someone says “Well, because I just evicted the tenant. The place is kind of trashed, and I want to get rid of it now”, for example. Well, then I don’t just stop there, even though the sheet just prompts me to find out why they’re selling. What I want to do is then go second and third level, because that’s where the juice is, that’s where you get the real nuggets that are going to help you find out what the true problem is for that seller, and help you monetize that deal.

In that situation, it would prompt me then to not just leave it with that answer, but then for me to ask, “Well, tell me about that experience with your last tenant. What happened there? How’d you end up getting that as a property, as a rental?” So all kinds of solutions come out of the info you get when you go second and third level with the sellers.

It’s a huge paradigm shift, because most people want to just get facts. And a lot of investors too, they want to just get facts, because they want to get to understand is there equity in this house? Or is there no equity in this house? They just want to go for the jugular and they take five to 10 minutes, because they’re spending more time qualifying than they are actually trying to solve a problem for somebody.

So that’s the benefit of what we do as licensees are. We have so many tools in the tool chest; you’ve got to look at your listing as just one tool in the tool chest. It’s not the main driver of your business, for example. That’s the major shift from people who are on the hamster wheel to actually evolve into problem solvers and dealmakers. But you could almost look at this sheet as a marriage between what cash investors who are looking for motivated seller leads, what they do on the phone, combined with what your typical licensee does on the phone with the seller.

You combine the two because they both offer unique solutions that they both bring to the table. But even your cash investor who talks to motivated sellers – they’re a hammer too, because all they’re trying to do in most cases, they’re trying to find out how much equity you have, build rapport, and then make a lowball offer and throw a bunch of spaghetti against the wall with maybe 15 to 20 sellers to get the deal or the discount they want. Well, if you’re a licensee and you take a consultative of approach, you can monetize maybe three or four of those out of 15 or 20, as opposed to just one out of 15 or 20. That makes sense.

Theo Hicks: Yeah. So is that where the eight to 10 different ways of making money comes from? You’re going to have a higher success rate? Or are you saying that there are eight to 10 different ways to make money on a particular deal?

John Chin: Both. So the former is what we emphasize, because of the latter. In other words, because you’re able to solve a problem a few different ways with the seller, there could be two or three ways to make money with the seller. Now there’s only one ideal way that’s a happy marriage or medium between what they’re trying to accomplish in life and the profit motive you may have as a real estate professional. So you want to find that one highest and best answer, if you will. If you’re able to have multiple ways to do that and there’s a highest and best answer, then to the latter point there, you can take more leads and turn more leads into deals.

So if you’re concerned, like a lot of us are, about our lead generation spend… Because you know, depending on where you are on the spectrum – if you’re a cash buyer, you’re spending anywhere from low competitive market $50 to $100 per paid lead, up to $200 or $300 per paid lead. If you’re in the retail sales space, you’re spending anywhere from 20 bucks a lead, five bucks a lead, on up to $100 or $200 a lead, too. So if you’re in a business that you’re trying to scale, and you’re sensitive about your lead gen cost, then you want to take as many of those leads and monetize as many of those leads as possible. Well, if you’re a hammer and you only have that one solution, whether it’s on a cash buyer side or on the listing side, you can’t monetize many of those leads. So it’s both.

Theo Hicks: Got it. I wanted to circle back to that… But I first want to hit on what’s actually on the form. I don’t want you to walk us through every single question, but what are some of the ones that are pretty unique, that maybe people don’t typically think about asking?

John Chin: Okay, let me give you the overarching philosophy here. We call it the four Ps. When you’re using the form, what the form does in two pages with about 50 different questions, or lines of questions, or fields that you have to fill in – what that does is it actually just answers or addresses four Ps that we’re trying to uncover. The first two Ps – and I’ll break them down, because it’s an acronym for four different things that you’re trying to uncover. The first two Ps you get done in the first few minutes of the phone call, and that’s “Is it a property type that I can deal with?” In other words, if you don’t do vacant land, then you don’t have solutions for vacant land or commercial properties, then you want to qualify that right upfront. It’s kind of a knockout question.

Second thing is, “Are you talking to the person,” that’s the second P, “who has control of that property? Are they entitled to the property? Or are you talking to a friend of the owner?”, for example. So you have to not waste your time and obviously address those right up front. Those are the two easy ones.

The second two Ps are a little bit more in-depth. And the sheet – it does a couple of things. Number one, because of this line of questioning, it allows you to build rapport with somebody by virtue of your seeking to understand them with a line of questioning they’re not used to from commissioned salespeople. You build rapport with them and it helps you agitate some pain and urgency, because you have to break this inertia of them doing nothing with their property, to get them to act… And that involves people getting emotional, and getting into what we call that negative fantasy that keeps them up at night when they’re worried about what this property, if they don’t get rid of it, is going to do to them in life.

The second two Ps are pain and profit. That’s what really takes up the bulk of the sheet. The magic behind the methodology is the profit is self-evident, it’s obvious. If I want to find out what kind of profit potential I have on this as a dealmaker, then I’ve got to understand what the cashflow opportunity is, are they willing to leave the loan in place, for example, on a subject-to acquisition? Is there potential, because they don’t need to sell it right, now for us to lease option it? What would the spread be between what market rent is and my carry costs on the property if I was going to structure something like that for a cash flow deal, for example?

So the profit potential, that line of questioning gives you permission and helps you build rapport naturally, and gives you the actual facts that you need to determine if there’s profit potential from a cash flow perspective and/or equity position.

Then the other P is pain, or urgency. The questions are designed so that you want to agitate the pain to build the urgency to get them off the couch, for example, to actually take action, whether that’s getting the property listed or getting it under contract. You have to agitate that pain, because if you’re going to get a deal, people only leave equity or cash-flowing deals if they’re making an emotional decision, so you have to stir the emotion. And that’s where I think people fail the most.

Our typical lead intake is going to take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes, assuming we know the first two Ps we have checkmarks with – they are in control of the property and it is the type of property that we want to deal with, that we can monetize. If we know those first two Ps, then the rest of the conversation should take about 30 to 45 minutes if you’re doing it correctly. I’ll tell you that when it relates to the pain portion of the questionnaire, the type of questions that elicit that pain and agitate the emotions to get them to take action – I’ve asked somebody what they want to get for their property on the front end of the phone call, and I’ve compared it to what I can get them to sell their property for at the end of the phone call. It’s like a 10 to $15,000 difference, just by virtue of making that pain front of mind for them.

I’ll give you an example, coming back to your initial question, what are some questions on here that maybe somebody doesn’t ask; or maybe they do ask, but they don’t take it third level. So for example, somebody says they just inherited the house. You’re going to see a lot of that; we have two million houses in the probate pipeline with the boomers dying off right now. There’s a lot of heirs or siblings that don’t want to contend with those properties. If you’re talking to somebody, for example, who just inherited a house, they’re in another state, and they’re trying to unwind the legacy of this property owner, their deceased family member, or parent… And they’re telling you that that is how they have the property. Then what I’m not going to do is just leave it there. I’m going to say, “Well, what happens if you can’t sell it? Who’s helping you with this probate case, or to help liquidate all these assets?” And then they’re going to tell me — I’m going to uncover more of their pain and more of their situation that is going to be more agitating to them. So it’s not even the questions on the sheet, it’s kind of the mindset you have. The sheet gives you permission to go second and third level to agitate pain, to get them to take action.

Theo Hicks: Very interesting. You mentioned that once this sheet is completed, then what are the next steps? It sounds like for you, you have people that use this and they can kind of come back to you and your program and talk through it. What about people who don’t have access to this? What should they do once they’ve finished out their intake?

John Chin: That’s a good question. So as you evolve as a licensed agent, [unintelligible [00:18:55].07] having somebody you can link into that can help you put all this information together into a practical solution. I’ve never had that question before, because the people that we work with, we work with on a consistent basis. They’re around the country; so I don’t want to get into a pitch here, but… If you don’t have somebody that can help you put those tools together, I guarantee you the way you find them is you can just do on Google and find people who are spending big money for leads like this, that have dealt with sellers in urgent situations. So if you’re a licensee and you want a quick low-hanging fruit way to find those people, you can go to your local REIA meetings and find somebody who helps people with different deals, that does coaching programs. They’d gladly get on the phone with you to help you unpack one of these after you finish it, so that you can get their feedback on how to do it. Because a lot of times, they’ll either provide the funding for it, or they want to JV with it, or there’s an incentive there to turn into a deal, and to take you by the hand and walk you through that process.

Another way to do it is to go on Google and just type in “sell my house cash,” and you’re going to see all the people who pay big money for Google AdWords to be found by sellers who you’ve already started working with. You can collaborate with that person, and they’d be happy to do it, because the incentives are there to partner with you on a deal. I’d say that those are the two easiest ways to do that.

You could also just look at the mail you get at your own house. A lot of people get direct mail from people who will pay cash for houses. Or just google cash for houses in your local area and you’ll find people who market in your geography that want leads like this, that will partner with you. So I would say lean on somebody like that.

If I was in that situation, and I had one of these done… By the way, I’ll walk through the structure of the type of information you’re getting without going into the exact questions… If I had that already done and I could take a picture of it, the front and back of that sheet, and send it off to that experienced cash investor or that deal maker, and then I jump on the phone with them, they have everything they need right there to unpack the deal. Because I’m actually collecting more information than chances are they’re even getting on their intake phone calls.

Theo Hicks: That makes sense. I’m glad we talked about this, because I think this clearly applies to real estate agents, but as you kind of mentioned a few times, it really applies to anyone who’s talking to owners and attempting to get them to sell their house. So that applies to anyone who’s generating off-market leads.

Some of the big takeaways that I got is – first of all, this is kind of obvious, but making sure that right off the bat on the phone call, you’re asking the questions that will automatically let you know if you’re talking to the right person and if this deal meets your criteria. That way, you’re not going to waste time in the meaty part of the conversation which is the profit potential, and then the pain and urgency.

It sounds like, in a sense, you’re trying to tap into what would make them motivated to sell the property, or why they’re motivated to sell the property. It’s most likely going to be some emotional reason, that’s going to be an emotional decision, which is what’s going to help you not only get leads, but get the best types of deals. And then overall kind of shifting your paradigm from just intaking a bunch of facts and then leaving it there, as opposed to approaching and saying, “Hey, you said you’re at point A and you want to get to point B. Let’s figure out how we can use your house to get to that point.” And then going through a solid seller intake form, but not just relying on those questions only, but using those questions to catapult into the second level and third level questions. You kind of gave us an example of that.

Then you talked about how can you create this form, and then once you have this form, how do you know what to do with it? Well, you really need to find someone who’s the expert. I like the advice you gave, you can just Google “sell my house cash,” and you’ll find all the companies that are trying to capture these leads, and you can work with them. So John, is there anything else want to mention before we sign off?

John Chin: Yeah, I’ll give you one last juicy tactical nugget. It’s the setup of that phone call. So literally, when you first talked to that seller on the phone, my question is have you ever worked with a licensed professional who takes more of an advisory approach to solving problems as opposed to only listing houses? Right off the bat, that sets a different tone with you. So they say, “Well, no, I haven’t.” Because they never have. “Well, let me tell you what I do. I solve problems for sellers, in various situations, various scenarios, in various life situations, whether it’s divorce, or they’re missing payments on their house, especially in today’s environment. Sometimes listing your house isn’t the best thing. My intent with this phone call is to get as many of these puzzle pieces on the table of information about your situation where you’re trying to go and what you’re trying to accomplish, so that we can together put our heads together and figure out how to put these pieces together to get you from point A to point B. So with your permission, I’d like to ask you some questions about your house and your situation, and then we’ll be able to solve this problem for you. Is that fair?” That’s the intent statement that we use to set up that actual phone call. Then you have permission to go into everything, because they know what you’re trying to accomplish now, and you clearly are different than your competition.

Theo Hicks: Yeah. Instead of just going straight into the questions. That totally makes sense; making sure you have that solid intro to set the foundation for the conversation. Thank you for sharing that, John. Well, alright Best Ever listeners, thank you for listening. You can learn more about john at investoragent.com. Thank you for tuning in. As always, John, thanks again for joining me today. I enjoyed our conversation. Have a Best Ever day and we’ll talk to you tomorrow.

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