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The Color Of Money: Unique Ways To Prosper In Today’s Tough Market

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Prices, the number of transactions and profitability margins are plunging. Whether you are an agent, broker-owner or manager, maximizing your income in today’s tough market requires a mindset shift that addresses the “Three Colors of Money.” 

Besides being branch manager for eXp’s Beverly Hills office and 2019 Realtor of the Year for the Greater Los Angeles Realtors Association, Taunee English is one of the savviest experts in how to create unique revenue streams for your real estate business.

According to English, the path to maximizing your financial security requires that you address all three levels of what she calls “The Three Colors of Money: Green, Gold and Purple.”  

Green

Most real estate professionals conduct their businesses exclusively at the “green” level. At the green level, you trade your time for money. In other words, if you’re not working, you’re not earning. Nevertheless, the other two levels work best when the green parts of your business are also strong. 

To generate more “green” profits, here are four areas to consider adding to your business. 

Referrals

Failure to make outbound referrals is a major profit hole in most agents’ businesses. A great example is our neighbors who decided to move back to Bellevue just before the pandemic began. Here’s the additional business that their listing agent missed by not making the outbound referral to Bellevue.

  • A 25 percent referral fee on the outgoing buyer referral to Bellevue. 
  • When her clients decided to move back to Texas, a 25 percent referral fee for introducing them to three of the best listing agents in Bellevue. 
  • A full commission representing her past clients on the purchase of their replacement residence in our neighborhood. 

That’s a total of three commissions from one client in less than 30 months. 

1-4 unit properties

In previous downturns, single to four-unit investment properties have been a powerful way to expand your business. Some advantages of working with these investment properties include:

  • Access to the same financing as single-family residences. 
  • Capitalizing on tax deductions tied to primary residence ownership as well as investment ownership. (Always advise clients to check tax ramifications with their tax professional.) 
  • As rents soar, the ability to raise rents to market levels when the units become vacant. 

Commercial, 5+-unit properties, and raw land

Because financing and other issues are much more complex in selling these types of properties, unless you have specific experience in these areas, consider partnering with an experienced agent or referring that agent business in exchange for a 25 percent referral fee. 

Businesses

This is another area that can be complex, however, many small businesses have set up shop in a small house or rental property that they own. Even if you need a business broker to handle the sale of the business, you can certainly list their real estate. 

Gold

Gold activities leverage other people’s time and/or produce passive income. The two primary ways real estate professionals leverage other people’s time are by becoming a broker-owner or starting a team. 

In terms of creating passive income, there are a wide variety of ways to do this. Common examples include: 

  • Investment properties
  • Investing in a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT)
  • Investing in a business you do not operate
  • Notes and trust deeds
  • Seller carry-back financing

Delaware Statutory Trusts

English has devised a fascinating way to attract real estate investor leads who no longer want to manage their current real estate investments using what is known as a Delaware Statutory Trust (DST). A DST is:

A separate legal entity created under the laws of Delaware to hold title to one or more income-producing commercial properties. A DST offering can be any type of commercial property; apartments, retail space, office buildings, industrial parks, etc.

Much like a REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust), an individual DST may hold title to multiple properties at one time. If the DST contains multiple assets, please note it may be necessary to file a tax return in each State wherein the DST has properties.

Each investor owns a “beneficial interest” in the trust which, in turn owns the underlying Real Property. This DST interest entitles the investor to his or her pro-rata share of income and appreciation in the DST’s assets.

For investors who no longer want the hassle of managing an investment property but would like to keep the benefits of doing a 1031 tax-deferred exchange, a DST provides an excellent vehicle for achieving this goal. 

Since DSTs require the individual be an “accredited investor” who has a minimum income of $200,000 plus a net worth of at least $1 million excluding their primary residence, you may be wondering how you can use a DST since you can’t legally give your clients investment advice. 

What you can do is to provide your clients information about DSTs that they can then show their tax advisor. The tax person determines whether this approach will work for their client. If their tax advisor approves, schedule the listing appointment. Here’s the step-by-step process. 

Begin by creating a digital, print, or social media campaign that says: 

Tired of hassling with tenants?

Discover the OTHER alternative to doing a 1031 Exchange

To learn more, Contact Sally Agent at: 

888-555-1212 

Once you generate a lead, explain that the other alternative is known as a Delaware Statutory Trust. Then ask, 

Would you like me to send you some articles to take to your tax professional to determine if a Delaware Statutory Trust would work for your personal investment situation?  

CAVEAT: Under no circumstances do you discuss how a DST works. Again, your goal is to provide your client with the information so they can have it evaluated by their tax advisor to see if it works for their specific situation. 

Close by saying: 

If your tax advisor feels that a Delaware Statutory Trust is appropriate for your tax situation, I’ll be happy to schedule a listing appointment to discuss the marketing of your property. 

The following three companies provide useful information that explains how DSTs work, including the pros and cons. 

Purple

Purple is the highest level in English’s model. In this model, you do the work once and get paid repeatedly. Examples of this approach in residential real estate include EXIT Realty’s residual program, eXp’s revenue share model, HomeSmart Residual Income Program for Life, and Keller Williams Profit Share program. 

Here are two case studies that illustrate how English is generating “Purple” money for her business. 

Become a life insurance agent

English says becoming a life insurance agent is much easier than passing the real estate exam. Moreover, she only uses her license to sell term life insurance that pays off the mortgage on her client’s new home if one or both breadwinners die. 

Prior to closing, English asks her clients if they would like to take out a term life insurance policy that will pay off the debt on their house if one of the owners were to die. Many of her clients agree to do this. 

The beauty of this approach is that the policy premiums generate income for her every year. It also allows English to stay in touch at birthdays and on renewal dates, as well as generating leads when her clients need more space for a new baby, are being transferred or decide to downsize. 

Once the transaction closes, her buyers will be bombarded with this type of offer. English’s approach is to capture the business before they close, but more importantly, to provide her clients with financial stability when there is an unanticipated death. 

Write a book 

The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to write the book. A ghostwriter can do it for you, but you will need a good topic. A book allows you to make revenue from Amazon (which makes it relatively easy to publish). The real value, however, is establishing yourself as the expert in your local market, plus generating more client leads. 

The title of English’s book is, So You Want to Leave California? 

English identified 10 states where Californians were relocating. She then worked with her contacts at Women’s Council to identify three top Realtors in each market where her clients might be moving. When she gives someone the book, she asks where her clients will be moving. At that point, she provides the buyer with three names, all of whom she has vetted and with whom she has a written referral agreement for a 25 percent referral fee for any business she sends the agent. 

Are you ready to maximize your financial security? If so, make sure that you tap into all three colors of money in your business — Green, Gold and Purple. 

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