Mosca: Rebecca, please tell us about the National REIA, who you are, what you do, and what you do for investors across the country?
McLean: The National REIA group is a federation of local real estate investor associations. We provide education, the forums for networking, and even legislative support for investors. We represent the investor that does not have a home in other places. Anyone who invests in real estate is potentially one of our members and our local groups are there to provide them at the local level with the ability to meet on an ongoing basis. They have newsletters. They have ongoing education and updates for them and the ability for them to share information with their fellow investors. In this changing economy, the most important thing that they can do is stay informed of what's going on in the market. If there is not an association in the town where you live, give us a call and work with us in getting a group together. We would support you. It's great to have a group on the ground in your town. It's good to know what people in your area are doing, what's working, and how neighborhoods are changing. Being able to network with other investors locally is of great value. The other benefit is the ability to get resources, services and discounts on everything from Home Depot to Sherwin-Williams, and better deals on insurance that fit your needs as an investor. Lastly, and probably most importantly, you still stay connected with us on legislative issues.
Mosca: Can you give us a short-term look at the economy right now and what you expect over the next couple of months?
McLean: Investors are creative people in our industry and some were born in one of the toughest times to get money in the '70s and '80s when interest rates were at 18 percent. We will definitely find new and better ways to invest but it is going to be different than anything we've seen. One other thing that is going to make things interesting is 2011. January 2011 may just make what happened with the sub-prime market pale in comparison. ARMs will come due; and a lot of jumbo loans are coming in markets like California, Arizona, and areas where large developments exist. We will see interesting things in the housing market. We need to keep our eyes open and stay plugged in. One of the things that we love about RealSource and the information they provide is that they provide the statistics, the information, and the research to stay ahead of the game. Today is a different game than we've ever seen and information is invaluable. When the market was strong and things were easy, you could recover from a bad decision fairly quickly but right now you need up-to-date information to be able to use your resources wisely.
Mosca: [caller Linda from Connecticut]: We own investment properties in the Northeast, and I've been using technology to help me evaluate them. I used to be able to find out names and phone numbers of people by going to different Web sites but it seems like that's become more and more restricted. Do you have any ideas on how to be able to get more sellers to call you and have them give us their contact information?
Russell: When it comes down to it, a lot of people want to toss out certain terms like 'Internet marketing.' The key word is not Internet; it's marketing. The best marketers are the ones get people to call them. Focus your efforts and your energy on marketing, especially marketing in your area. Find out what people respond to in your area specific and create a “squeeze page” or a “capture page” designed specifically to capture someone's contact information. Offering information they need or want and offer it in a way that's almost irresistible to them. If they're in that need and in that situation, they will enter their contact information.
Linda: Before I sign off, I just want to say I think it's a really great time to buy real estate. Properties that were not cash flowing two years ago are now cash flowing because of the price. It's just a really great opportunity if you can figure out a way to purchase a property either creatively or traditionally. It's really a great time to do it.
Mosca: Excellent Linda. We agree with you wholeheartedly. Greg, how has technology impacted the products and services you're delivering for the National REIA?
Russell: Technology is affecting every business, not only real estate, and the reason why is because of the speed in which information can flow and change hands. It is that speed of information that is critical to any business. Just as we heard from the caller it used to be easier to names and numbers where now it's more challenging because businesses are starting to understand that information is valuable. Services that used to be free for certain information and certain searches are now going to charge. For real estate investors, the speed of information is critical.
Mosca: Do investors have a choice to pursue technology or is technological change have its own built-in inevitability?
Russell: You don't have a choice if you want to do real estate today. The information will travel too fast. Use it to your advantage. There are no excuses anymore. You have to learn. Once you spend a little bit of time grasping it, then it's like riding a bike or driving a car. At first, you have to use all of your brainpower to figure out how to do it but once you use it on a regular basis, it's not that time consuming.
Mosca: There is a school of thought that says a well-managed Web site is better than a human. How do you feel: is the Web site more important?
Russell: Definitely not. Nothing is more important than a human contact. That's the most effective form of communication and marketing there is. It does not trump human contact. However, the use of the Web site can help you get more human contacts if that is your ultimate goal.
McLean: National REIA has its own Facebook page with all of our event information. We have friends that are both members and others that are not necessarily active in a REIA group but follow real estate.
Mosca: What is your golden nugget for today?
McLean: At National REIA we believe that any time is a good time to invest in property. The key to that is knowing that you are buying and financing intelligently. Being able to 'sbuy intelligently and finance intelligently relies a lot on technology. It's a great time to be an investor. Don't wait to get into the market.
Russell: Take the time to learn how to use today's technology. You don't have to learn everything but a lot of it is based upon the same principles. Use technology to promote your business.