I am a firm believer that with this year comes with it a promise to change who we are as investors and the opportunity to change how successful you and your investment business can grow or become.  So many people use excuses to delay their success along with hiding behind their fears and insecuredness as human beings to become successful.

I’ve had the good fortune to have been trained and study some of the best educators and guru’s out there who have helped me over come some of my past deficiencies and change the way that I start the 2nd quarter.  The best way that I have been taught to make sure that this year is better than ever year is to start the year with a rapid amount of activity.  What I mean by this is to do as many productive things for your real estate investment career as possible in a 90 day period if you are working an outside job still or 30 day period if you are a full time investor.

I’ve taken the time to compile a list of items that I did to jump start my career three years ago and these are things that I teach my students to do on the road as well when I travel.  Some of these items you will probably recognize, but if you are a new investor, they will be new to you.

Step 1:  Attend a foreclosure auction. Now hopefully your not there to bid on your own home!  Foreclosure auctions (especially at the start of the New Year) are a great way to meet investors.  You will find seasoned investors along with new ones who are looking to break into the real estate game.  These investors can be a quick way to build a buyer’s or wholesaler’s list for you to flip or assign a property to and make a quick buck!  Along with investors, you will find realtors and hard money lenders there as well.

Realtors are often there trying to find out info on a property that they are listing for a homeowner in trouble along with having a list of buyers or investors that you can also add to your wholesalers and buyers list.  Talk with the hard money lenders, as they are often willing to finance properties and may turn you over to private investors who can also help fund your deals.  The important thing is to take plenty of business cards, a few pens and be willing to approach people.  Don’t be scared!  If people don’t have a card, fill out the back of yours and follow up with them in a day or two.  New investors really appreciate someone offering a nugget of knowledge that might help them avoid a problem or two.

Step 2:  Send out an email blast to your entire database. This is something that a lot of novice or new investors struggle with.  For seasoned investors, this is never a problem as they realize the need to network and advertise what they do.  I always make the comment that you can’t be successful in this business if you are a secret agent!  Taking the time to write a three to four paragraph email informing your database of friends, family, and colleagues about what you do as an investor is sometimes the final internal “click” that gets people to believe that they are investors.

This also gets your acquaintances starting to believe that you are serious about what you are doing.  If you can’t bring yourself to do this, you might want to go ahead and find something else to do because if you don’t have the confidence to do this, you will never have the confidence to ask someone for a discount on a property or ask someone to give you the deed to their house.  Dream it, Speak it, Do it!

Step 3 and 4:  Pull Existing REO’s and Short Sales that are on the MLS for over 90 days and make offers! This is a relatively easy step that doesn’t take a lot of work.  Each investor should have at least one to two realtors that you work with on a routine basis and who is an integral part of having a successful real estate team.  Simply have your realtor run a search on the local multiple listing service (MLS) for listings that include Bank Owned or REO along with Short Sales that have a days on market of 90 days or older.

The reason you want to shoot for 90 days or longer, the banks or home owners have listed the property for a period of time and if they have no offers, they start to look for alternative ways to sell the property or start to drop the price to get the property moved off of their books.  I especially like doing this for short sales and have the listing agent do the negotiations.  This allows me to simply make an offer and wait for the bank to counter.  I don’t have to deal with the drama of collecting paperwork from the home owners along with letting the listing agent do there part and handle the negotiations.  By doing this, you should eventually work up and be closing one to two deals a month.

Step 5:  Join Two Networking Clubs. Getting the word out to the public on what we do as investors is actually easier than you think.  While I do believe that it is critical for investors to be a part of their local real estate investment clubs, I also recommend that as new investors you attend several of the other local investment clubs.  Clubs such as Rotary, Lions, Chamber of Commerce, Business Networking International, Association Mortgage Professionals, Association Young Real Estate Professionals, the list can go on and on, especially with the mass amount of local groups that meet on a regular basis.

These groups are great ways to get your message out to people that aren’t in the circles that we as investors are in.  You will often find realtors or mortgage brokers but there are very few investors who hang out in these clubs.  These are great areas to meet other business owners who know other individuals that you might be able to target as potential private lenders.  Either way, most of the time these networking events are around happy hours or lunch so it’s a great way to spread the word of what you do and get to know people in your area!

Step 6:  Call and talk to 10 Real Estate Agents a Day. If you live in a small town this might be knocked out in a day or so.  If you live in a town like Austin, this could take you all year.  Just take the time to call a few realtors and tell them what you are looking for and that you are an investor.  It may not lead to something immediately, but you might find something like a pocket listing that you can run with and make some quick cash on.  Realtors are looking for buyers more so now than the past few years.

Step 7:  Call Your Local Home Vestor Franchise. This might surprise a lot of investors.  “Why would I call another investor?”  Home Vestors usually buy houses with the 70% of ARV formula.  They are usually comprised of sophisticated and seasoned investors who usually run into more leads than they can handle on a regular basis.  I was lucky enough, along with several of my students, to find subject to deals, private and hard money, along with a willing and ready wholesale buyer with our Home Vestors contact.  Take the time to visit with these people.  They can sometimes become one of your greatest contacts.

Step 8:  Write a Blog. In this age of technology, you need to have an online presence of some sort and there isn’t a better way for you to talk about what you do and blast it all over the internet than to write a blog about your business.  You definitely need to utilize the free services such as Word Press, Squidoo, or other websites that will allow you to post a blog or description of what you are looking for or doing in real estate.  Facebook, MySpace, and Active Rain are great networking websites that allow you to post blogs for other members to read.

I’ve had several reporters respond to some of my posted blogs in the past that has led to free marketing for my business along with the fact that many of these websites will upload your info into the top tiers of search engines like Google and Yahoo through your key words.  This can not only help you find deals, buyers, investors and other team members, but it can also add credibility to you and your business and be spread out to a much larger audience than just the people that you know.  By writing about what you do, it forces you to become an expert and people are attracted to that.

Step 9:  Post Craigslist Ads Religiously. I’ve always been big on posting Craigslist ads to help find private money, wholesalers, buyers, and deals.  Unfortunately, this free advertising is often overlooked or postponed by a lot of investors to be successful.  You have to post on a continued and regular basis for the ads to work effectively and what I did to over come the fact that I would often forget about posting my ads was to go ahead and set up a daily reminder in my Outlook Calendar that would prompt me to take the 10 minutes to repost my ads.

It actually takes less time to repost once you’ve done it a few times, but it depends on how many ads you are posting.  When you close a single deal off of Craigslist, it makes this the biggest bang for your buck as far as advertising and marketing costs.  You can’t expect to post an ad once and expect it to draw.  This is a repeat process that is needed to be done over and over again.  Take the time to set up your reminders, you won’t be sorry!

Step 10: Take Your Spouse or Partner and Visit a Few Open Houses or Garage Sales. This one came pretty surprising to me.  If a person can no longer afford their payments, what do they do?  They sell their toys off!  They host garage sales to try and pay their payments.  It is especially obvious when the same home owner hosts multiple garage sales.  I’ve worked this before and was able to visit with the homeowner who was in financial strife and was willing to work with me to help save their home.  I also know of one investor that religiously gets 2-3 signed authorization forms each weekend from patrolling the local garage sales.

Heck, while you are talking business, your spouse can be looking to pick up some thing as well.  I also like visiting open houses to talk with realtors who are running the open houses looking for potential buyers that they might be able to represent.  When I mention that I’m an investor, they are often more than willing to take some extra time and work with me to submit offers on properties.  It’s a great way to gain info on the neighborhood as well by talking with the open house agent as they have often done their homework, especially if it’s in a neighborhood that you are looking at buying in.  The most important part is that it allows you and your spouse/partner to do this together and can be a nice bonding experience especially if they are not working with you in your business.

Step 11: Call and Talk to 2 Mortgage Brokers a Day. This is similar to Step 6.  Mortgage brokers are often finding themselves with files that they can’t get closed and are looking for alternative ways to get their loans closed and make something for their time and effort instead of nothing.  Mortgage brokers also often have contacts with loan processors, hard money lenders, and other investors and are often willing to give referrals out to these people that can be added to your team.  I’ve often been able to pick up an owner financed buyer for a home or two by just talking with brokers from time to time who send me their clients that they can’t get financed through traditional means.

Step 12: Call and Talk to 2 Title Companies a Day. This is similar to Step 6 and 11 except that I like talking to closing agents to see if they are working or have worked with any private investors lending money on real estate transactions.  The majority of the time, these closing agents has been told by the investor to refer their name out and good closing agents for title companies are glad to provide referrals with the hope of you closing more business with them.  There are a lot of title companies hurting for business just like realtors and mortgage brokers and they are often the easiest to deal with and the most open mindedness.

Step 13: Listen, Listen, Listen. Sometimes as new investors or educated investors, we want to show people how knowledgeable we are.  We get in a hurry to show others what we know that we sometimes “throw up on them” by telling them way too much information.  It’s important to ask an open ended question to potential team members, home owner, and buyers to find out what they are looking for and then to clam up.

Take the time to listen what others are saying as they will often tell you what their hot buttons are and how best you can service or find them a property.  We are just so ready to talk that we sometimes stamp out the one opportunity that we have to make a sale.  Use what the good Lord gave you in the ratios that he gave you.  One mouth, two ears!  Make it a point this year to truly listen to people as they will tell you their story and pain and you can use this information to help construct win-win scenarios.

Step 14: Go By Your Local Zoning Office. Your local zoning or code enforcement office is a great place to find deals.  They are the ones that often have to assign weed liens, condemn homes, or file complaints against home owners for not abiding to building codes.  I have worked with several investors who would visit their code enforcement offices to find abandoned property or out of state owners who weren’t able to keep their grass cut.  The staffs at these offices often know more about the properties than you would be able to find out and can offer some great insight into solving their problems.  Who doesn’t like the idea of someone showing up to solve their problems!

Step 15: Post Your 2009 Goals for Everyone to See. I’m a huge advocate of writing down your goals for the New Year.  I like to take this a step farther and post them where I along with my friends and family can find them as well.  I post mine on the fridge, next to the television, in the bathroom and next to my bed so that they are the first things that I see when I wake up!  By posting them you are not bragging or looking to show someone up, but simply asking for your friends and family to help hold you accountable and support you with taking the necessary action to accomplish them.  One item that continuously plays in my head throughout the day when I am in a funk is “What is the most productive thing that I could be doing to accomplish my goals?”  If you are able to hold yourself accountable, awesome, run with it!  Otherwise utilize your relationships to help you make the most of this year.

Step 16: Make Sure and Take Action and Have Fun! It doesn’t matter how many action steps that I give people to do.  If they aren’t willing to take action and act upon their goals and action steps, there is no force out there to help them become successful.  Now on the flipside, when you are taking action, make sure you are having fun with what you do.  Each day of my life is different, yet it is the same, and yet it isn’t work.  I’ve worked hard through the ups and down of my early years as being “gainfully unemployed” to know that I must make the most out of each day, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have fun.  Life is a playground that we just forget about from time to time.  Celebrate the little daily victories in life.

My friends and students find it quite humorous that I often dance a jig or two to celebrate successful meetings, or conference calls.  This can help take the monotony out of life and I often make fun or poke fun at myself to stay loose.  Being an investor is supposed to be fun.  It’s not fun when you aren’t closing deals!  Henceforth, take the required action on the front end to make sure that you are dancing on the back end when you walk out of closings with big checks!

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