Investing Outside of Wall Street – Zombie deals

In the world of real-estate investing, we often say, “Money is in the follow up.”  How true! Recently, after many twists and turns, we finally closed on a deal that came to us from our direct-mail campaign in October 2016.  David returned the initial call within 48 hours and, thereafter, left multiple messages over time.  No additional response came from the caller for a few months.  This was a probate lead which, I thought, for sure, was dead.  (Umm, no pun intended.)

It’s a good thing that, in this business, most of us are trained to not take anything personally, and to never assume what each caller is thinking or going through in his or her life.

Some of us are further trained to let things bother us for no more than one second, at most.  It helps when one’s life is so busy, like mine, that there is virtually no time to think too much into what others say or not say at all.  One of my mentors says, “A ‘no’ answer simply means, ‘not right now’ because circumstances in people’s lives change over time.  Guaranteed.”

If one call does not produce favorable result, then I say, “Next,” and move on.  Every phase of our business is a numbers game.  This is precisely why I like it.

Armed with those helpful tips, all you need is to treat others with dignity and respect at any moment.  If you conduct your business with those simple rules, over time, persistence usually pays off.

Sure enough, a couple of months later, the original caller finally returned David’s gentle messages.  Eventually, we put this deal under contract.  In addition to the house, this property came with several acres of land.

There were many interested potential buyers.  Most of them, however, ended up walking away.  The key issue was that the township, where the property was located, remained non-committal to any lot splits.  When dealing with experienced cash buyers, as we do, the ability to split a lot can make or break a deal.

When the first cash buyer, who was willing to pay full price, chose to walk away at the last minute, I thought, for sure, the deal was dead.  Then we were introduced to two additional potential cash buyers who were willing to buy it for less.  In sequence, they, too, changed their minds at the last minute.

By this time, I’m thinking, “Price is a function of supply and demand.”  In other words, if priced correctly, fully taking into consideration the uncertainties associated with the lot-split issue, we should still be able to make a deal out of this property.

Making a rather long story short, we ended up getting a price concession from the seller.  In the end, the ultimate buyer was the one that chose to buy it based purely on the value of the existing house to rehab and re-sell it for a profit, while assuming the worst-case scenario in terms of lot split, meaning it may not be allowed by the township.  Of course, it is expected that this buyer would continue negotiations with the township and, if granted, he would be able to enjoy a wind-fall profit.

In conclusion, unless a property has recently been sold, we should never assume that a deal is dead.  The above example is proof that persistence usually does pay off, especially if it is a zombie deal.


Happy investing!



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