If you regularly listen to the show you may eventually have a rehab project if you haven’t already. When you do, there are many expenses you need to look out for, such as capital expenditures for remodel, the cost of money to purchase, and most definitely the cost to hire someone to sell it. How about finding someone that will sell your product above asking price? Our guest today is your man! Learn how to vet each candidate.
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Aaron Hendon Real Estate Background:
– 5 Star Realtor with Keller Williams Greater Seattle
– Provides Boomers with Aging Parents a Stress Free Way to Handle Senior Transitions & Estate Resolutions
– Host of The Seattle Real Estate Podcast with Christine & Company
– Designated Leader of the Introduction Leaders Program at Landmark
– Based in Seattle, Washington
– Say hi to him at http://christine-and-company.com/
– Best Ever Book: The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis
Click here for a summary of Aaron’s Best Ever advice: http://bit.ly/2oMPQnM
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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, 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 fluff. With us today, Aaron Hendon. How are you doing, Aaron?
Aaron Hendon: Joe, I’m doing great, thanks! How are you doing?
Joe Fairless: I am doing well, and nice to have you on the show. A little bit about Aaron – he is a five-star realtor with Keller Williams Greater Seattle. He provides boomers with aging parents a stress-free way to handle senior transitions and estate resolutions. He’s the host of the Seattle Real Estate Podcast, and he is, of course, based in Seattle, Washington. With that being said, Aaron, do you wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your focus?
Aaron Hendon: Well, I’d say I’m a residential realtor now. I’ve been a real estate investor for about 15 years; I got into the residential, agent side of it about five years ago. Also, an author and an educator. I really do consider my job to be consulting with people when they’re making the biggest, most expensive transaction of their life. I work with investors and individuals looking to buy their homes, or anyone looking to buy residential real estate.
Joe Fairless: Okay, let’s just clear that up in my mind a little bit. So anyone who’s buying residential real estate you work with, but I believe — do you have a focus with baby boomers, or is that not the case?
Aaron Hendon: I do. One of the niches that I focus on are helping boomers with aging parents. The avatar there would be “Leave. I’m a boomer, my parents are in their nineties and I don’t know anything about anything about what I was gonna have to deal with when it came time for them to move out of their homes.” They got themselves a reverse mortgage on their own, I didn’t know anything about that, I had to go look into that… Estate resolution… It’s just such a stressful time for people; it’s such a hard space emotionally… Your house itself is emotional, much less your parents. So you’re dealing with all of that.
Anything I could do to facilitate that transition I thought would be a very useful, valuable niche. I come from the mind of the — I don’t know if you ever read the book The Go-Giver – it’s sort of “How can I help? What can I do to provide value?” I thought there was a real niche that really could use help, so that’s a focus of ours here for sure in the last couple years.
Joe Fairless: It makes sense, and I do enjoy the Go-Giver, and the author of that, Bob Burg has been on the podcast a couple times, so Best Ever listeners, you can listen to his interview on this show, as well if you just google “Bob Burg Joe Fairless”.
Let’s talk about your investing approach. I believe you said you were a residential real estate investor for 15 years – did I hear that correctly?
Aaron Hendon: Yes.
Joe Fairless: What were you investing in?
Aaron Hendon: Single-family homes, the remodel and we’d rent out, and look at value and flip at some point, but buy and hold mostly.
Joe Fairless: Okay, and was that a past tense or present tense as far as you being an investor?
Aaron Hendon: Past tense.
Joe Fairless: How come?
Aaron Hendon: Well, because when the downturn came we lost our money. We lost our capital in the downturn, and have been slowly building back up. That’s sort of how I got into the realtor side of things. I thought, “Oh, well there’s a way for me to stay involved in something I enjoy, and carry none of the risk” – it’s a very low-risk model from the point of view of the realtor, and yet I could facilitate that with people that were looking to buy and hold, or flip, or do anything like that.
At this point, financially, for my family, we’re probably in the next 12 months looking at getting back in because now as a realtor, of course, I get the advantage of the commission.
Joe Fairless: Oh, yeah!
Aaron Hendon: It’s ridiculous for me not to be back. It took some time… I’m sure you have listeners for whom the downturn hit them, and it did for me, for sure.
Joe Fairless: Oh, absolutely… And I’m curious now that you’re going to get back into it, what is your approach going to be now versus then?
Aaron Hendon: Well, for sure don’t get carried away. It was very easy — looking back on it now, it’s just been sort of insane… Ninja loans, and all the questions I had about it at the time were like, “Wow, are they really gonna lend me this much money?” – that kind of stuff. So to not get carried away and not do things that don’t actually make sense. You don’t have to take the money just because they’re giving it. If it doesn’t actually make sense, there’s probably something on the other side of that. So we wanna do it more slowly, do it more cautiously, not get carried away, make sure that a downturn doesn’t take out everything.
Joe Fairless: What will be the type of financing or property you purchase on this next go round?
Aaron Hendon: I would stick with single-family residences, because that’s really sort of what I know and it’s my sweet spot. As much as I enjoy learning new things, I’d like to start back up with what I already know. I would prefer to start with — if I could find the flips, it would be the flips, but in the Seattle market right now there’s just so low inventory, and everybody who’s already in the business, all the investors, they’ve already got that covered. So I would most likely be looking for buy and holds. The Southern [unintelligible [00:07:24].03] Tacoma area… There’s a couple of great colleges there, so vacancy rates would be naturally lower because of the turnover, because of demand, and there’s the joint air force base Lewis-McChord, which are great tenants, and home values are certainly low enough that you could buy and have the rent pay the mortgage and then some, and that’s really where we’re gonna be looking.
Joe Fairless: And with the fix and flip, do you have your own team that you used in the past that you would just activate again, or are you starting from scratch with the team?
Aaron Hendon: I would be starting from scratch with that team.
Joe Fairless: What’s your role in the fix and flip process? How hands-on are you?
Aaron Hendon: I wasn’t, at all. Like I said, it’s been years since I’ve done it, so there’s no team now. When I did it, I was not hands-on at all.
Joe Fairless: Okay.
Aaron Hendon: I’m not handy with a hammer.
Joe Fairless: That makes two of us. So let’s talk about you being the host of the Seattle Real Estate Podcast – how long has that been running and what business result have you seen from being the host?
Aaron Hendon: It’s been about a year, and mostly it’s just a top-of-mind kind of phenomenon for people. I frankly don’t get a lot of subscribers, it’s not something I particularly promote as a podcast… I do educational videos at least two or three times a month, about topics that people ask me about. Sometimes I’ll do interviews, I’ll do interviews of people like a contractor or a lender or something like that, that are applicable for people buying residential real estate… And answer those kinds of questions, things about “What are the most profitable remodels I should do before I sell? Or the least profitable remodels. What’s it like to live in this part of town?” Market updates, “What’s the market doing?”, things like that, so that people, when they think of residential real estate, they might think of me as a resource.
All that goes up on YouTube, all those go out to my e-mail list of about 2,000, twice a month, so that people… Again, total go-giver – value, value, value. When they look in my direction, they think “Oh, well there’s a resource… There’s somebody who could give me some advice.”
In terms of ROI or business results, things like that, mostly it comes in the form of people call me — I just got a call from someone that I haven’t spoken to face-to-face, voice-to-voice, in 12 months, 15 months, something like that. And they just called and they said, “Listen, I’ve been getting your stuff, and I have a question. We’re right now ready to sell…”, and it’s that kind of constant drip of value on them that leads, with no ask, no sale (I’m not asking for anything) that leads them when it’s time to find someone to help, they come to me.
Joe Fairless: I love that. One thing I’ve noticed with my podcast initially is that I didn’t get any comments or feedback or outreach from strangers initially… But what it did is whenever I shared it, it influenced my current circle of friends and family, and it positioned me as a thought leader within my current circle of friends. The people who had been either needing questions answered in the real estate investing space, or thinking about it, who I already knew, this then positioned me as a thought leader, and it sounds like it’s been similar results for you.
Aaron Hendon: Yeah, Joe, a hundred percent. I don’t know how you feel saying the word “Thought leader” about yourself… It always makes me sort of uncomfortable – I always consider myself to be “Okay, I’m just some guy”, but at the same time I am putting myself out there and I do think that I have value to add, and I think that’s exactly right, I think it positions me as someone who people could turn to. For any of the listeners, everyone’s got something to add, everyone’s got value, everyone’s got a unique perspective, and I think it’s just a question of bracketing and putting aside our own internal thoughts of “Oh, I’m not really that smart” or “I really can’t do that.” Just put yourself out there.
Joe Fairless: Have you noticed any tangible business results since you’ve been doing it for a year? Any deals that have closed or any transactions, or is it still brewing and brewing, and long-term you’ll see stuff?
Aaron Hendon: Something I do with the videos that turn into the podcast – those videos go twice a month to my list, and then I always call through my list of anyone who’s opened the videos… You know, you get a click report, you can find out who opened the video and who clicked on it, and as soon as I call through that list – prospecting – part of my phoning is calling through that list, and I call them and I’ve had people on the other side say “Oh great, I’ve gotten your video. Thank you so much for calling. Listen, my brother-in-law is ready to sell – do you wanna give him a call?” That kind of thing.
So I’ve probably done two, maybe three deals last year, something like that, from the e-mails. It’s the prospecting, though… You can’t really tell that they’re calling in from the videos, but you can tell if you call them… So I don’t know how many deals I got just from it, other than the ones that I called out to. But it’s two or three for sure, in the last year, which is not bad; it’s the first year I’ve done it
Joe Fairless: Yeah, that’s great, especially when you can start looking at the platform paying for itself and then some. You mentioned something earlier that piqued my curiosity… You said the most profitable remodel and the least profitable remodel before you sell – one, can you tell us what those are? And then two, if they’re market-specific to Seattle.
Aaron Hendon: I don’t think they’re market-specific, although I certainly don’t want anyone to come back to me later and go “Oh no, that was just Seattle!”, so I don’t know…
In terms of most profitable – and again, I’m speaking to individuals out to sell their home, not necessarily investors with money to put in… So I haven’t done it from that perspective, but from the residential homeowner, out to sell their home, the first thing I think they need to understand is that no remodel is gonna return more money than they put in. That remodel, at best, you’re looking at 80-90 cents on the dollar from an individual fixing their house. It’s different if you’ve bought a foreclosed home and you’re gonna go put money into it; that’s a different scenario and I haven’t done that work. But for the private homeowner, looking to improve their house, if they’re already clear that part of the value needs to be the amount that they enjoy it, that they don’t do it just before they sell, because they’re not gonna get that money back, the most profitable seemed to be putting on a nice deck, or fixing the deck that they have, making outdoor space. It’s relatively inexpensive, it looks great, and it adds in usable square-footage in some way that doesn’t necessarily get reported, but it’s fantastic, and it creates a great eye appeal, and that’s such a big deal when you’re selling your home. So that’s one thing.
Same thing with kitchens. Kitchens – you can spend $40,000 remodeling your kitchen and you’re not gonna get that back, but if you did it intelligently, did it economically, did it in a nice, well-done way, you can get 90 cents on the dollar back when you sell that house, and if the kitchen becomes more functional for you for the year or two that you live in it before you sell it – fantastic. That’s a great use of money.
The third one is usually going green – tankless water heaters, possibly solar, maybe radiant floors if you’re doing an add-on… It’ll give you, again, the best shot at getting 90 cents on the dollar, and only more and more popular… Green solutions are just becoming more and more valuable as we move forward with our economy. So I think those are the three places that residents can look.
Joe Fairless: And what about the least profitable?
Aaron Hendon: I think the least profitable ones are — first of all, primarily, anything you do, think in principle about this… No one is out to buy your home; people are out to buy THEIR home. They don’t wanna buy YOUR home, they wanna buy a house that they can turn into their home. So things that you do to the house that YOU love, like paint – if you’re gonna paint, you’d better be painting white, you’d better be painting neutral… Do not paint that room pink because you love pink, it’s detrimental. Not only do you lose the money and time it took you to paint it, but people are gonna pay you less. Same thing with carpeting… Unless the floors are just horrible, you’re way better off getting a carpet credit than you are carpeting, because no one’s gonna like your taste; nothing personal, but really… Don’t. Just don’t put in new carpeting. Flooring… Any kind of vinyl flooring – you just cannot rely on the fact that the buyer wants that, and you’d be better off offering that much money in the credit than you would be doing it yourself, because you’re liable to turn someone off.
So things that are cosmetic that are particular to you are the worst possible investments you have to flip the house.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, that’s a great lesson for investors… Definitely investors as far as no one’s buying your home, they’re buying their home, so make sure we do the renovations that align with the mantra.
Aaron Hendon: Yeah, very good. Great way to say that.
Joe Fairless: What is your best advice ever for real estate investors?
Aaron Hendon: This is very self-serving, so you’ll have to forgive me, Joe, but get a good realtor partner. Don’t go cheap when it comes time to find the professional that’s gonna sell that home. A good realtor, and if you interview a realtor well, he should be able to get you more money at sale than doing it yourself or doing it with a discount broker, and you can absolutely find realtors who’s list-price-to-sell-price ratio is high enough to cover their commission, and finding someone like that is like finding a great contractor. It’s like finding a great drywall.
Joe Fairless: What’s the list-price-to-sell-price ratio?
Aaron Hendon: It’s how much over or close to list price do you get when you sell a home.
Joe Fairless: You can ask that of the agent whenever you’re interviewing him or her?
Aaron Hendon: You sure can.
Joe Fairless: I guess you should…?
Aaron Hendon: Well look, isn’t the point to get the most money in the least amount of time with the least hassle? If that’s the point, then that’s the kind of questions you wanna ask your realtor that really nobody asks, Joe. This is literally how I got started in my educational program of creating videos and creating books. I’m in the middle of my second book now, called Real Estate Blindspots, because it’s so shocking to me that people actually do want the most money in the least time with the least hassle, but what they do when they interview realtors is pretend “Oh, they’re all the same.” It’s whacky!
Joe Fairless: Okay, you can ask that question, “What is your list-price-to-sale-price ratio?”, but how do you get verification that what they’re saying is correct?
Aaron Hendon: If you’re questioning their honesty, we’ve got a problem right away, with using that person. But you could easily ask them “Show me the listings you sold in the last 12 months.” When I go for a listing appointment, I print out the last 12 months worth of listings and I show them the list-price-to-sale-price ratio. Now, no one does that; I know no one else is doing that, because everyone else is organized around the way the market thinks, and the way the market thinks is “All realtors do the same, so therefore the first one that comes through my door is the best one.” That is really how the market thinks, and I’m out to break that up and let people know, “Look, there’s other people that you might have interviewed that they show you this?” You could just ask them to print it up off the MLS.
Joe Fairless: Instead of asking what’s your list-price-to-sale-price ratio you can just ask “Can I see the listings you sold in the last 12 months, a print-out of that?” and then you’re not questioning their truthfulness, you’re just asking them to look at that… And then on those print-outs will it show the original list price and the sale price?
Aaron Hendon: It will show the list price, the sale price and the days on market. It should all be right there for you. And it will blow their mind. I promise, if you’re an investor, if your listeners do that, there will be people that get chased away. There’ll be people that get insulted, there’ll be people that find you arrogant… And what a great way to vet who you work with, because how dare anyone be insulted? They’re about to take 2%, 3% of your commission, and they’re gonna get insulted?
Joe Fairless: I love that. That’s phenomenal. I’m really glad that you mentioned that. What is a good ratio?
Aaron Hendon: That’s a really great question, Joe, and that is something that you either would wanna research yourself and find out what the market is like in Seattle… It’s a super hot market, it’s insane… Multiple multiples over asking price; two days on market, six, seven, eight, ten offers – it’s crazy. It’s not like that everywhere. Our team does 105% of asking price on average, where the local market altogether is 100% of asking price… Because if you’re taking all of it, it’s 100%, and we consistently get 105%.
Good, it’s not like that in Tallahassee, but you should find out what it is like in Tallahassee, find out what the overall market in Tallahassee is like, so that when you compare realtors, you’re comparing them against your market average; not some national average, but YOU, where YOU’re selling. And you can ask them, you can find a realtor that finds that out…
I’m trying to think how investors would find that out… I’m a little bit off about how to do that…
Joe Fairless: We could simply ask three, four or five people, real estate agents, that question, and then we’ll at least be able to compare those five against each other.
Aaron Hendon: Completely! And then you can see, because if you get someone who’s obviously heads and shoulders above the rest, you can then start asking, “Okay, how do you do that?” And then, Joe… I think it’s really great, it’s just a really good point, because at that point, after you’ve gotten their actual performance, then you could ask the questions – “Okay, do I like hanging out with this person? Does this person fill me with confidence? Do they make sense? Do they have integrity? Is this someone I wanna do business with?”
I think those are also still critical questions, I just don’t think those are the only questions, and those are pretty much the only questions that anybody ever uses, not the performance one.
Joe Fairless: I love that, it’s very helpful for anyone listening who will use a real estate agent, which is most of us. Are you ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round?
Aaron Hendon: Sure!
Joe Fairless: Alright, let’s go. First, a pause for our Best Ever partners.
Aaron Hendon: Okay.
Joe Fairless: Now let’s roll right into it. What’s the best ever book you’ve read?
Aaron Hendon: I’m gonna tell you the last book, because the recency bias is always right there for me… The last book I read is called The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis. That’s the guy that wrote Moneyball and The Big Short. I find him fascinating, he’s a great writer. The Undoing Project is about Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, who are Nobel prize-winning psychologists who created really the field of behavioral economics. Just a fascinating look on how human beings are so predictably irrational in their buying.
Joe Fairless: Oh, sign me up!
Aaron Hendon: It’s the basis of my Real Estate Blindspots book, about the way we’re idiots about real estate.
Joe Fairless: I’m reading that for sure, that’s next on my list. Best ever deal you’ve done?
Aaron Hendon: Okay, the best ever deal… I have very good friends that I got to write an offer for… I’ve actually done this twice now with friends, but one where we went and saw the house – it was the second house they saw – we walked in, they loved it, there was already an inspection done. I called the realtor and I said “Hey, my clients really love this place. Do you have an offer?” They said, “Yeah, well we’ve just sent our counter-offer back to them but it’s not signed yet.” I said, “Okay, well if I wrote you an offer at this price, could it bump the one you have?” They said, “Yes, it could…”
So we sat down at a coffee house, we wrote up that offer, got it to them, they rescinded their counter-offer and accepted our offer. So while that’s clearly some other realtor’s least-favorite deal, that was my favorite. I loved being able to do that.
Joe Fairless: What’s the best ever way you like to give back?
Aaron Hendon: Honestly, I do work with a company called Landmark Worldwide. It’s a company that’s committed to transformational leadership and transformational educational in the world, and I’ve been participating and leading programs with them for about 20 years. It’s a volunteer process for me, but man, to watch people step beyond who they know themselves to be and into a world where they become leaders in their own life… There’s just nothing like that.
Joe Fairless: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made on a particular deal?
Aaron Hendon: That was what was there for me when you said “What’s your favorite deal?” – what’s my least favorite deals… [laughter] There was one last year where I had this great client, I totally loved them – and they did love me, up until this – and the deal was sort of closed way too quickly. It was out of protocol; the whole thing was out of protocol. They were using Bank of America, which if I could make sure that none of your investors ever use the big banks, it would make me thrilled and happy…
So they were using a big bank, and I knew it, it was a problem all the way through the deal. The deal finally got approved and was ready to close on a Friday, and my client e-mailed me and said, “Can I please, please, please, please get in there this weekend? Can we close today?” and I said “Yes”, and I should have said, “Well, we really do need to do a walkthrough, which could postpone the close until Monday… But we should do a walkthrough. How do you wanna do it?” – and I didn’t say that, I just said yes.
We went ahead and closed, and then we did the walkthrough and the seller had left just a ton of stuff all over the house, and while I paid for the cleaner, I got it all cleaned up, my client was just heartbroken. They had gotten a house that was just so poorly maintained, and it all could have been avoided had I done the walkthrough, had I done what I know to do. They won’t use me again, it was a tough deal to put together, but I didn’t do what I know to do at the end, and it was just a shame. It was really disappointing.
Joe Fairless: Lessons learned along the way, that’s for sure.
Aaron Hendon: Absolutely.
Joe Fairless: Where can the Best Ever listeners get in touch with you, Aaron?
Aaron Hendon: Probably the best thing to do — so I wrote a book about interviewing realtors, called “Don’t get fooled again.” It’s seven questions you must ask to avoid hiring the wrong real estate agent again. If they go to dontgetfooledagainbook.com, they will not only be able to download that book for free, they’ll also get on my mailing list, which will then get them all my information, and they’ll also be on the list to get a free copy of The Real Estate Blindspots when it comes out later this year, which is a much more thorough investigation of the ways in which we are irrational, foolish with buying and selling real estate. And I’d love their feedback on that too; that would give me a really big favor, if when they got a copy of that book, they were available to give me feedback. That’s a promo for your investors.
Joe Fairless: Aaron, the number one question you gave us, if that’s any indication of what’s in that book… Everyone definitely should get the book. I love the question, and we should all ask potential real estate agents who work with us “What is your list-price-to-sale-price ratio?” or maybe instead of that, just ask to see the listings over the last 12 months, and then you’ll see the list-price-to-sale-price, and days on market, then compare them to others or compare them to a standard that we know the market to be at.
Thanks so much for being on the show… Lots of other great lessons, but that’s the one clearly head and shoulders above for me, that I took away from this interview. I hope you have a best ever day, my friend, and we’ll talk to you soon.
Aaron Hendon: Joe, thank you very much. Thanks to everyone listening too, I appreciate it.