My real estate life began as an investor many years ago. I was channel-surfing in the middle of the night, somewhat discouraged and disappointed in my career choices when I happened upon a Carleton Sheets "Buy Real Estate with No Money Down" infomercial. I bought the course and absorbed every word of it. I was 24 and knew absolutely nothing about the subject. Most of the techniques he described weren't terribly viable- at least in my market at that time- but it was an excellent "Real Estate 101" and I soon began buying, selling and leasing property.Thus began a life-long love affair with real estate.

Fast-forward a couple of decades and here I am, swimming the shark-infested water that is commercial finance. Perhaps "piranha-infested" is a more apt description. You know what I mean; post a funding request and then sit back and watch the feeding frenzy begin. It's actually a little embarrassing.

So, in the interest of improving our standards of behavior (as well as in the interest of sarcasm- just one of my free services), here's my industry-related parody of the hit TV series. Most of these rules apply to borrower and lender alike:

1. If you lie, funding won't happen. Successful transactions absolutely depend on complete transparency and full disclosure between all parties. Take the time to understand who you're dealing with and build relationships based on trust.

2. Time is ALWAYS of the essence. If you're buying property and negotiated a 3 week settlement deadline, have all your ducks in a row. Three weeks is very do-able, but not if you take 2+ weeks to complete an application and personal financial statement.

3. 100% is a myth. From a single loan anyway. Such a thing relies on cross-collateralizing, being solid enough to get unsecured credit lines or the willingness to deal with truly usurious fees that will suck all the profit from the deal. (If you're reading this and you do have one loan product for fix&flips that will cover all the acquisition cost, points and rehab budget, please contact me. I'd love to know of it. Otherwise, I call bullsh*t.) There is a notable exception- the SBA7(a) program. The paperwork is brutal, the guidelines are narrow but it's out there for more people than you might think. I do them.

4. Irrelevant responses yield irrelevant results. Hypothetical example based on what I commonly see:

Request: Looking to fund a 20-unit apartment building.

Response: I CAN FUND YOU THE LOAN, ALL WE NEED IS YOUR BUSINESS PLAN TO START THE LOAN FUNDING AND THE INTEREST RATE IS 0.3%MONTHLY WITH FLEXIBLE TERMS AND NO PREPAID PENALTY. CONTACT ME VIA...

Request: Need $25M for a widget-manufacturing start-up in Micronesia.

Response: I CAN FUND YOU THE LOAN, ALL WE NEED IS YOUR BUSINESS PLAN TO START THE LOAN FUNDING AND THE INTEREST RATE IS 0.3%MONTHLY WITH FLEXIBLE TERMS AND NO PREPAID PENALTY. CONTACT ME VIA...

Seriously? Same response every time. For one thing, no one can legitimately tell you the precise interest rate until they have a lot more information about the borrower and the project. They can give you a range. They can explain guidelines and criteria of different programs. They can estimate costs. They can make educated recommendations and help you make good decisions. Or they can't. (btw, admin, you know who I'm referring to and the only value he brings to this site is to make me look like a genius.)

5. Please learn effective written communication. I realize we live in the age of LOL and WTF. That works on Facebook and when texting your drinking buddies. I do that as well, in the appropriate environment, but let's try to raise the level of professionalism just a tad, hm? If you need help writing an executive summary or an email campaign, ask for it. I'll be happy to assist at no charge. I do this simply in the interest of preventing it becoming a dead art. If your writing is terrible, go ahead and bring me your deals- I don't judge. But lenders will often base their decision on how well you communicated the details of the project. Likewise, borrowers will choose to do business with finance professionals who present themselves well.

6. Learn. Research. Read. Knowledge and information are what we all truly deal in. The rest is procedural.

7. Take responsibility. If your business idea or funding request has bounced from lender to lender to lender with no success, don't complain that they're all telling you the same thing. Change your approach. Take the steps necessary to move forward. Ask for help and advice from knowledgeable people.

8. Be passionate. Commit yourself to joyful pursuit of excellence in your field. It takes time and effort but it's worth it. Besides, the alternative sucks.

Thanks for reading. Be well. Buy real estate.

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