On Going

Why Use A Real Estate Broker?

We had had a “dream home” built on a a 200 foot wide piece of high bank waterfront property we had owned for years. The view was like a beautiful painting with Mount Baker on the other side of Skagit Bay where interesting watercraft and eagles sailed by regularly. Only four months after moving into our new home we were hit head on by a construction trailer full of scrap metal that had slid spinning across three lanes at highway speed. While recovering from our physical and mental injuries over the next several years the business we had operated virtually for years had shrunk to near zero taking our income and personal assets down with it.

It had been wonderful having such a beautiful place to be captive in while we healed but we finally realized as our mental capabilities were mostly recovered the cost of paying the mortgage and upkeep on our “dream home” was going to have us totally destitute before many more hears.  We decided to sell.

In the legal world there is a saying: “An attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client”.  I chuckled knowingly when I would hear it said but when I became a real estate broker and needed to sell our house guess what; I listed it myself.  I thought it would be great to not pay 3% of the selling price to some other real estate broker and like many property owners I figured I could handle it myself.

In real estate they say location is important but I learned location is trumped by timing. 2012 was not a good time to sell a luxury home where our house was located. Nearly two years after putting it on the market the price had dropped from $650,000 to $576,000.  We had an offer  for $505,000, which seemed like an insult and when we “generously” countered at near midway, they upped their offer to only $515,000.  I was neither objective nor happy but we were desperate to get the monthly payments off our shoulders so we accepted.  At the last minute before the inspection contingency expired, the buyer asked for a ten day extension on the contingency so they could have a geo tech person check the stability of the slope between the house and the water. Five days more or less would not have mattered much but I was learning the downside of being an FSBO. I was emotionally involved and I said: “we will give them 5 days, no more.”  They withdrew their offer and we went back to making monthly payments.  I negotiated with the banks for months in an attempt to get some of the relief we have read about.  The banks were not concerned about our problems and they had passed us around like a basketball on its way to a slam dunk.

After another year and putting out another $50,000 in payments and expenses we had dropped the price to $465,000. We encountered a new stressful situation.  We received a full price cash offer only to find out after all the selling costs, taxes and commission to the buyers side were paid, selling for $465,000 would not be enough to pay both the first and second liens on the house.

The buyers turned out to be very fastidious and through their buyer agent they submitted a full page of questions. The questions, among other things, seemed to argue about why we put in the kind of septic system we had. When I opened the document and read the questions and arguments I felt like someone had kicked me in the stomach.  Whatever rational control I had regained since the accident disappeared.

I had initially agreed, as part of accepting the offer we needed desperately, to accompany the buyer, before closing, down the embankment to the shoreline so he could see the surface water diversion system tightline. I didn’t know if the buyer was physically fit or not and knowing the trip to the beach is 500 feet down and up again at a 45 degree angle, I began to fear he might have a heart attack from the climb. Upon reading what seemed to me in my rationally traumatized state to be  nit picking questions about the disclosures I no longer really cared. I decided I shouldn’t take him down the bank. .

I called the buyer’s agent and told her I would not accompany anyone to the beach through the brush and I would not agree to meet with them to discuss the items on the disclosure statement.  I was too emotionally involved to be rational about anything.

In spite of my having reached a point of not caring if they bought the house or not and resolving to not give an inch on anything further, the buyers wanted our “dream home” enough to make up the needed financial shortfall to the banks and the sale closed.

I learned why being an FSBO is not a good idea and got a real lesson in what listing brokers get paid for.

My first week of Ridesharing

Today is Sunday, January 22, 2017. Last Thursday almost on a lark, I clicked on a button that said “Apply to drive for Lyft”. I filled out the form and uploaded the requested photos and before I was finished with the online stuff I received a text saying a Lyft mentor had a time available to meet with me in the next couple of hours. I drove to Tempe and met with the mentor who was also meeting with three other people at the same time. He rode around the block with me and explained the process in general to all four of us. We didn’t spend any one-on-one time With the Application and I didn’t even know what questions to ask. I returned home and finally Straightened out a problem with my driving record caused by the number on my Arizona driver’s license. Once that was straightened out they said they didn’t like the picture that had been submitted because I wasn’t looking at the camera. I had Margaret snap some pictures of me against The Wall in the living room and uploaded the best one. Within an hour I received a text saying I Was Approved to drive. I went online to look for more instructions on how to handle Giving Rides with Lyft.

while I was exploring the application on my smart phone a chime sounded and the text said there was a customer wanting a ride. I could see a little clock running and remembered I only had 15 seconds to accept the writer or miss it. I hadn’t even comprehended what was happening when the 15 seconds passed and I missed the first rider. I didn’t even know my app was online and accepting ride requests. A little more review and I realized what had happened and decided if I Got Another request I would accept it. I would go do what needed to be done. I put on my shoes and another request came through almost immediately. I clicked the button and still with some confusion managed to drive to the address the app indicated. The young man and his girlfriend needed a ride to the bank and then To a House in Mesa and then a return ride back to where we started from. Fortunately, this customer had used Lyft quite a bit and told me which buttons to push to make It Work. By the time I finished that first ride I had learned a little bit about how the app worked.

The next day, Friday, was a rainy windy day and I went out to learn more. I spent about three or four hours and accomplished two successful rides. In addition to the two which were actually accepted, about five others all canceled while I was still figuring out which direction to go to pick them up. This Was Very frustrating but I considered it part of the learning process. The next day, Saturday I went online about 5 PM and received a request within a few minutes. I accepted it and found my way to the pickup about a mile aweigh. They were going to the southern part of Scottsdale and fortunately knew where they were going. I was having a difficult time figuring out what the app Was Showing me. I hung around Scottsdale and accepted four or five more rides until about 8:30 PM. Then headed for home. I kept the app online online and traveled on the surface streets. Going down Scottsdale Road I got one more ride. Two of the rides I got that afternoon were with customers who were less than a block or two from my location when I was pinged. This caused confusion because the GPS did not handle’s close distances real well. I lucked out and all of my rides that day were successful. After the cancellation problem the previous day, I had gone home and read more articles. I learned it is possible to call the rider before heading out to pick them up. I did that with about half of my rides on Saturday and it helped avoid requests canceling before I was well underway. Somebody commented riders able to see after I had accepted them if my vehicle was moving toward them. The day before, because of traffic problems I had gone in circles several times before getting underway and that was probably what caused people to cancel before I got there to pick them up. On the Friday I had also had one experience where I went all the way to where I was supposed to pick up the ride at an office building and the rider never showed up. I waited five minutes as I was supposed to, called the rider and got voicemail. Shortly after hanging up from leaving a message the rider canceled. I didn’t know if this meant I wouldn’t  get paid for the cancellation. I now realize when I wait the five minutes and call I should immediately cancel to show it as a “no-show cancel. I have seen since then I did collect a five dollars cancellation fee.

Saturday was a very successful afternoon. The system shows I was online for a little over three hours and I earned $31 and some cents. I drove a total of 50 miles from the time I left home until I returned. From the numbers being developed, I could see by now I would have to do more than just drive passengers around in order to make any decent money. Using the rate IRS allows, about $.50 a mile, gasoline and wear and tear on my vehicle was at least $25 to earn $31. I was beginning to enjoy the learning process once I realized what incredible technology was involved in these ridesharing companies.

This morning I decided to see what the system looks like from the customer standpoint so we used Margaret’s phone and her account to request a Lyft ride to the waffle house. The ride to the waffle house was with the man who had the Radio Playing loudly when we opened his car door. He had no inclination to carry on a conversation unless asked a direct question. He was also driving a Toyota pickup which rode like a truck and was difficult to get into and out of. When we finished at the waffle house and requested a Ride Home we were picked up by a man in a very well maintained 2014 Toyota sedan who turned out to be a lift ambassador. When I told him I had signed up to drive for Lyft he became very helpful and told me about several apps which he said improve the experience.

Although the second day out was discouraging, I have accepted the fact this is a new experience with a learning curve which is going to take a few days. I am considering going ahead and finishing my application to Uber and also looking into the various package delivery programs that are out there. Once I know enough about several of these I have will can speak to groups and help others learn how to earn some extra money. This could be especially Helpful to People at retirement age who can’t get hired and want to work part-time. Lyft and Uber and also the package programs are quite aggressive with client acquisition programmes that pay bonuses for referrals. That may be the way to earn enough income in this industry to make it worthwhile.— Updated and added to December 27 2017.

Since writing the previous material, I finally, after hours of attempting to communicate with a totally automated system, finalized my Uber application and am approved. I also spent the good part of a whole day researching and reading about the insurance situation while driving rideshare. It appears both Lyft and Uber provide liability coverage for when you have passengers in the vehicle. Most insurance companies, including State Farm, exclude their coverage if the vehicle is being used to carry passengers for hire. The insurance provided by the rideshare companies seems to solve this problem except for the gray area when the app is turned on but there is no passenger in the vehicle. I’m looking into changing insurance companies to be sure we have good auto liability insurance which will cover rideshare operations. —1/27/17

Conclusions and Results:   After reading about the many different types of rideshare working opportunities and actually driving for Lyft and Uber for parts of a week, I realized the interest in this activity was a distraction from what I should be doing for real estate and pursuing my dream. I removed it from my list of ways to spend time.

Meetups and Networking

to learn how the Meetup system works I paid the $58 fee for a six or eight month meet up which I can create. My goal was to bring people together for the express purpose of conversing and interacting and potentially connecting with each other as individuals. The first one I scheduled was at the black bear café during the lunch hour on Friday and it turned out the restaurant was so busy it was very noisy. By telling about it in next door as well as broadcasting it on meet up I had six or seven people show up and they had a nice time visiting but I felt the meeting was not particularly successful for its original purpose.

I also scheduled a second meet up at the same time to be held in the early morning at the black bear café also. I am going to go ahead and do that one even though I did not try to promote it.

I have reserved a study room at the library in Gilbert and will pursue “the idea of a” Seeking Synergy” meeting of up to eight people in a study room on a regular basis.

Margaret and I went to the riparian reserve yesterday morning and walked with a meet up group there. It reminded me of how participating in the right meet ups can be an excellent way of meeting other people and possibly connecting with someone as an individual once in a while. That same afternoon we went to an over 50 social happy hour meet up at a Chinese restaurant. There were about 14 people and it appeared to be a very good group to participate in to get to know others over time. The same Meetup group has subgroups which looks interesting.

I had to leave the happy hour meet up early to go to my first investor networking meeting at the SEVRAR office. That meeting organized and run by a man by the name of Greg slaughter was extremely interesting and encouraging. He gave an excellent presentation on the subject of investing and how to do several things. After he finished his presentation the idea was for people to mix and meet one another. The meeting had about 80 or 90 people in attendance and was extremely effective. It was the first activity I have found in the past week or two of searching for investing activities that appeared legitimate. Everything else I had come across appeared to be more smoke and mirrors than straightforward.