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— by david Serpa

Destroy Multiple Offers With The VA Loan: 5 Tips from a Marine Corps Veteran

The difference is in the offer and the representation, not the type of loan.  

No one wants to see you wrinkle up your nose or listen to you talk about how bad you feel, how hard you fought, or how it “just isn’t the market for a VA Loan.” That’s lazy representation! You want the truth? I would have probably won the same bidding war you just lost, with your clients, and I am going to tell you how you will win the next one, and then tap into the largest referral network in the country! Or you won’t, and you will continue to make excuses, and be a Realtor that is “Proud to Serve those that Serve”… absolutely no one, alone in your office with no clients… scrolling through Facebook until you can go home at a respectable hour feeling like you tried today.  

This may seem extreme to you, but you’re talking to a man that was a Machine Gunner in the United States Marine Corps and fired a 26-pound machine gun from the standing in combat. I don’t do “luke warm.” I’ve never understood not being 100% into whatever it is you are doing right in that moment. I’ll never forget filling sand bags as a Lance Corporal when a slightly senior guy said to me, “Why are you working so hard? If I fill 6 sand bags and you fill 30, we still get paid the same.” There’s two different kinds of people in this world, those who are words and those who are action.  

As a spiritual man that is in no way religious, I find a lot of wisdom in a lot of different religions, and today the examples come from Christianity. In Revelations God says, if you are neither hot, nor cold, He will “spit you out.” (Revelations 3:15-16) We live our lives in these “luke warm” states of “not too cold” or “not too hot.” That is not the way of the veteran, ergo the difficulty transitioning back home to civilian life. It is not difficult to quantify “service” to those who have not served, imagine the way you love your child. Imagine the way you love your wife, your husband, your mother, your daughter, your best friend, now imagine loving everyone like that, for no particular reason at all, because they wear a uniform. Yes, there are turds in every family, but I would ball up my fists for most of my family members, I’d kill and give my life for my military brethren.  

I am a savage. I am a Barbarian. It has suited me well in business and in life. I will not tell you how to “target military,” I will not tell you how to better “serve” them if “service” is nothing but a buzz word to you, but if you are feeling called to serve the military community, then no one can stop you, and I welcome you with open arms into this tribe.  

First, I will do my best to quantify tribe, to better prevent it from becoming a buzz word used by vapid people to describe “people they drink with.” The word “Tribe” meant something before it was printed on Hallmark Cards and entry signs into suburban homes that feel less “tribe” and more “staged” to resemble a perfect life.   

Tribes are counter-culture of the western economic mindset. It is what we long for when we move into a new “community.” We want it to feel like a “commune.” We want to gather out front, share food, and share memories with a group of people that we could weather the zombie apocalypse with! We all want to be friends with the guy with all the illegal stuff, and prep work, just in case things pop off. We crave “tribes.” We glam onto shows like “Vikings” and “The Walking Dead” thinking about a group of people forced together by circumstance and how they perform under fire. You don’t have to wait for the apocalypse to show how you are tested under fire, you have a life, and every heart beat is life, and every day you meet new people by circumstance. You get to decide how you are going to show up for them.  

So, if you are going to serve your military clients, my brothers and sisters at arms, I ask that you do so with the same grace, dignity, and dedication that they served you with. I don’t ask you to say, “I would serve my clients up until the stopping of my beating heart,” I just ask that while your heart is beating, you serve them to the best of your ability during the transaction and not go AWOL, or MIA when they need you most. Earn your stripes, don’t just say you’re “certified.”  

Here we go, the 5 sentences most people are going to scan to, in bold, so everyone can decide if they want to read the entire article: 

1.     Write a good cover letter.  

Excuse Agent: “But Serpa, they won’t write a cover letter!” 

Reason Agent: “They need a house, I need to get paid, we need a cover letter.”  

I can’t tell you how many times I have called my clients and asked them, “Hey Mom Client Who Has A Million Things To Do, can I write a cover letter for you and text it to you, and creep your Facebook for a couple of good photos?” “Oh my god yes! I love you!” Most people don’t want to write a cover letter, don’t have time, and don’t know what it should say. Write it for them! Don’t apologize for the VA loan and don’t oversell it!  

A.  Make sure you write it or they do, passionately.

I don’t care if it is not a multiple offer situation. If it isn’t, and the agent is like me, they’re trying to make it one! So, don’t give them a chance. Give them the most beautiful Jane Austen Novel they’ve ever read, give them Shakespeare, and acknowledge all the details they loved about their own home; “straight off of Pinterest,” “Perfect Retreat,” “amazing country kitchen.” Describe their home the way they always wanted it described, the way they would want their buyers to recognize it, and the way their Realtor probably didn’t in the MLS description.  

B.    Include pictures! 

Hit them with the trifecta; family portrait, kids or informal, and military uniform. I don’t care if they are a single dude, living with a dog, he has a story and if you are patient enough, you may be lucky enough to hear some of it.  

C.    Make the cover letter page one of the purchase agreement in PDF Format. 

This will guarantee that if the agent sends all of the offers digitally, the first thing their clients will see when they open your offer is The Trifecta of Photos, a wonderfully crafted letter, and an agent that knows what they are doing that will make it a “smooth transaction by putting everything into one file.” If nothing else, in a Multiple Offer Situation when all the offers are sitting side by side, your offer will look warm, welcoming, next to a pile of contracts, and will stand out like an American Flag in a sea of United Nations Soldiers with empty magazines during wartime and it will mean all the same things; we’re not here to mess around. This is not an empty offer.  

2.     Attention to Details. (i.e. not just reading the bold sections… turds.) 

Most people will scan through and read the bold sections, they are not my people. They didn’t earn this article, they didn’t put their feet on the yellow foot prints. You did. You have the Attention to Detail of the Intellect. This section will serve you well.  

A.   Don’t cut commission, instead cut costs and provide value.

The biggest mistake agents get into when offering in a Multiple Offer Situation is an immediate discount in their commission. $1,500 probably isn’t going to do it, value will. Good agents win, with offers that net less by offering superior service and value over than that of their counterparts. Be the person that says, “My VA Crew is the best in the business, my VA Lender gets it done in ________ many days (under promise, over deliver), they’ve done ________ many VA loans this year. I won’t go MIA on you IF something were to happen. We close transactions, and my clients love the house! I think we can close this one smoothly together. (presumptive close).” There are things you can do that cost less than offering a % cut and look more appealing. For example; you can pay for the seller’s termite inspection (typically $75) and Home-Warranty (about $500) for less than a 1% Commission Percentage cut and it sounds like more, and the sellers will see less inspections and warranty boxes checked that they are paying for. You save more money and develop a great relationship with an awesome termite company like Richie’s Termite, and they do the right thing, and then the sellers love you too. Win, win, or no deal.  

B.   Reduce inspection times. 

None of us can do anything about the wait for a VA Loan Appraisal, but you can tell the agent, “We will get the home inspection done in the first three days, and get the request done in the first seven, so we can remove all the contingencies except appraisal, and at that point we are just waiting to close!”  

C.    Smart language.

Don’t apologize for your clients using their VA Loan. It’s an excellent loan, and a great program backed by the Federal Government, that is available for our Veterans. When you discuss your clients using their VA Loan to a Listing Agent, don’t say “they’re just VA” or “they would like to use their VA, if it’s possible,” tell them “these are Strong VA Buyers.” Why? Every VA buyer is a “strong VA buyer.” As long as their debt-to-income ratio isn’t thrown off, and they have a decent credit score, they are “strong.” They are 100% backed by the Federal Government and they net sellers the same as Conventional and FHA Buyers with a smart agent and a lender that knows what they are doing.  

3.     Overcome Objections.   

Once you get good at overcoming objections with VA Loans, you will see the same ones popping up. No matter what they throw at you, overcome it. What is the mission? The mission is home ownership. Anything that stands in the way of that mission is mission critical. Stop treating failure as an option and get out ahead of it by developing a relationship with the listing agent and opening a solid line of communication.  

I do not give up. I’m relentless. Until I give up, then it is with grace and with wishing them “the best with a good escrow” and reminding them to “call me if something happens.” The biggest issue is the one you didn’t know about that loses your clients the home and you the deal. Make the call yourself to the agent, introduce yourself, and tell them to expect a call from your team and just flat out tell them, “If this goes multiple offer, we’d love to take the last shot at it, to see if we can do what we need to do to win! I’d really love to work with you, and I think this is the right house for my clients.” Even if your clients say, “Hell no! I’m not coming up $500 on the purchase price,” or simply are up to their limit, now you know you can dip in $500 into your commission (which the sellers are paying) to help them win it, you know you will win, and you didn’t have to do it offering 1% up front. Now, you look like the champion that saved it all for $500, instead of a discount agent that wasn’t worth the commission! Value yourself, and your clients will, too.  

A.   If they question the VA Loan:

“This isn’t your parent’s VA Loan, or our if you feel like you can’t pull it off! It makes the other agent feel young, it makes you look experienced, and it’s a flattering compliment that most agents won’t take personally. All while, letting them know, this genuinely is not the VA Loan in the 1980’s that our parents worked with. This is a VA Loan that works, on time, appraisals are on par with everyone else, and EMDs are just as hard to seize as they are everywhere else! The net is the same, the inconvenience to the seller is non-existent, and the buyer earned it. Other Agent: Oh, I don’t know. I’m worried about going VA.” You“This isn’t your/our parent’s VA Loan! We close these, and I don’t typically have any problems I don’t have with any other type of loan. I think this will be a smooth transaction, let’s shorten the inspection contingency, give your clients some peace of mind. We want this to close.” Talk about “closing,” consistently, even though you are not yet in escrow.  

B.   If they bring up a potential low-appraisal: 

“Let’s address the appraisal if and when we get there. I think we are good now, besides there are things we can do to help the net, without adjusting the value. Have you heard of Tidewater? We get time to contest! My team will fight it!” New agents will feel assured, veterans will appreciate that you will be willing to submit comps if/when the time comes. Always go back to “we can make this happen,” “our clients, together, we can…” 

C.    Size of the EMD: 

Earnest Money Deposits are a joke at this point, honestly. Have you ever tried to seize a $10,000 Earnest Money Deposit on a Conventional Loan? Has anyone waived the appraisal contingency in writing? What’s to stop them from walking? If we all work together to get it done, and are transparent, I see no reason why this shouldn’t close.” It should never come to an EMD battle between our clients, but in that situation, most times it is a ridiculous “time wasting, small-claims, court battle.”  

4.     Cutting Commission is not service.  

Price is an issue in the absence of value, as Michael Hellickson of Club Wealth likes to say. Besides, you might need it later. This will attract a certain type of client and you will get treated the way that you advertised for people to treat you; like a discount wholesaler.  

A.   Understand value.

Instead of a discount offer a *special promotion for Veterans and First Responders, say “I will shoot video walk throughs for all Military Clients that are unable to attend viewings together.” You can do this on your cell phone, crop it in iMovie, and help a family on the other side of the country make a decision without discounting your service, but by offering a tremendous value and post them privately to YouTube. Dad can see his wife and kids walking through six houses, while visiting Camp Leatherneck and stationed in Afghanistan without downloading an attachment, but with a private link, he can stream videos. If you would like to request Representation Agreements for those homes, that is understandable, and encouraged.  

B.   It will attract a certain type of client

If you discount, you’re chumming the waters and I know a few Military Spouses that are going to carve you up like a Thanksgiving Turkey and make you earn that 1% commission you advertised and probably not be happy with your service because they went into it, expecting discount service, and working for their “savings.”  

C.     You might need it to save the deal. 

Don’t write a discount into the offer, it makes you look weak (in most cases, and you will be treated that way). Besides, you may need it in three weeks to save the deal, or to win in the “eleventh hour” in a Multiple Counter Situation because you know it will “win the deal.” Use it to win, not to bargain.  

Special note: adding in extra commission and charging it to your clients is a disgusting practice and should be considered predatory. You are costing your clients deals in multiple counter offer situations and they should know that, up front, in writing, and have it explained to them. 

5.    Take time to understand the VA Loan. 

Take time to genuinely understand the VA Loan, study it, and familiarize yourself with it so that you can understand the VA Loan, and become a true advocate. There are a lot of crazy rumors out there about the VA Loan. No matter if you are a veteran, a patriot, or just want more smooth business transactions and happy clients; be part of the problem, or be part of the solution. Most real estate agents are just afraid. They don’t want to look like a clown to their clients and they definitely don’t want to blow it because they took ill advice. Sure, there are times the VA Loan does not stack up; all cash, over-asking, quick close, OR a Conventional Loan with a solid Proof of Funds, and a waived appraisal contingency. As for “I’m not sure this will go VA,” or whatever excuse is being offered. Find it, beat it, and then talk about closing.  

Don’t know if your offer stands a chance? Call the agent and start figuring out how to win before you even write the offer. Your offer, most of the time, has a much better chance than you realize, you just have to remember what they’re buying and what you are really selling; a chance to have a veteran benefit from their awesome home, getting paid, and excellent transactional service by you and your team. You just need to sell the listing agent that and find out what they need! Someone is buying something from someone. Author of the “4-Hour Work Week” Timothy Ferris said, “A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” What else can you do to further your ability to represent veterans and advocate on their behalf in Multiple Offer Situations? 

A.    Join VAREP.

I am headed to Washington D.C. in June with Dave Clark, President of the Riverside CA Chapter, and Dustin Luce, VAREP National. I am working to bring my own chapter to Temecula, CA. How can you get involved as a Veteran or a Patriot? We need lenders, brokers, agents, and affiliates ready to advocate for veterans in their communities: www.varep.net 

B.   Work closely with a great lender. 

Have their team call Listing Agents when you submit offers, educate buyers together, and look to empower great veterans that are out there working in the fields as lenders like fellow Marine Corps Veterans and educators in their fields; Daniel Lehman who wrote the book “VA Home Loans,” and LeRoy Romero at “Military Mortgage Boot Camp.”  

C.  Attend a class or a seminar like LCA LIVE 2018.

Not all Seminars are created equal, and not all certification programs are worth the paper they are printed on. Going to conferences like KW Family Reunion, Closing Table, or LCA LIVE 2018 are worth their weights in gold for the tactics and techniques you will learn to better represent your clients and the relationships you will develop along the way.  

In Conclusion  

You don’t earn “service” with slogans that say “Proud to Serve Our Veterans” or “Here to Serve You.” We see through that crap from a mile away. You earn the service where it counts, in the trenches, in the eleventh hour, by saying “the buck stops here.” Not by missing the call, and then not burdening your client with every tiny win or loss. They have enough to worry about. These men and women deal in life and death. If you are not prepared to serve them adequately, target someone else. You earn service by putting your feet on the yellow foot prints of life and meaning it.  

They should say “that was easier than buying a car.” There are enough people preying on Veterans and their families after 17 years of war, be one that truly serves them.  

The term “hero” is thrown around a lot, but this is the actual description, for those of you going to type it into a google search bar you will find two definitions; “1. A person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities: a war hero.” I can’t guarantee that every, single person you will serve will be a “hero,” or will “have acted heroically,” but I can tell you that they have all served, and that their families have served, and that they have all earned their VA Loan. 

Also, the other definition for “hero” is “2. (also hero sandwich) North American another term for submarine sandwich.” 

Suggested Reading for Veterans and people that follow David Serpa or enjoyed this article; Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton by Taylor Baldwin Kiland & Peter Fretwell with Dr. J.P. London & Dr. James B. Stockdale II; Unbeatable Mind by Mark Divine; Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson; Tribe by Sebastian Junger; Struggle Well by Ken Falke & Joshua Goldberg; and Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl.  

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