By Deborah Ball Kearns, RE/MAX Times Online Associate Editor

Nate Martinez has never turned down an REO asset. His team handles more than 200 REO listings at any given time, and he never shies away from an assignment – no matter how challenging it is.

The Circle of Legends and Diamond Award winner says working REOs isn't an easy job and not everyone is cut out for it.

"When you first start up in REOs, you're doing it all – turning on the power, organizing repairs, listing the assets, completing broker price opinions," says Martinez, owner of four RE/MAX Professionals offices in the Phoenix area. "To do well in REOs, you need to have the right systems and the right people to help you be effective."

Here are Martinez's six keys to becoming successful in REOs:

1. Get educated and network. RE/MAX leads the way for REO education, so take advantage of it and get the CDPE or the FSP designations. I went to the 2010 RE/MAX Convention specifically for the REO/Short Sale Summit. I also went to the Five Star conference in Dallas, where I landed some new accounts by meeting the right people and following up with them. Place yourself up front and center at these events. There are plenty of REO conferences; make an effort to attend as many as you can so you can get in front of the right people.

2. BPOs don't guarantee listings. A BPO is just that – and nothing more. If a property is in default for 30 days or more, the bank simply wants the latest value for the home. BPOs are done randomly as a barometer to figure out what an asset is worth on any given day. There can be as many as five to 10 BPOs done in the course of a foreclosure proceeding. Some companies out there are merely BPO mills and have no hand in assigning REOs. A well-crafted BPO is a selling card to an asset manager if you don't have prior experience working REOs, so it's important to do them and do them well. But don't expect to get REO listings from the same companies.

3. Be quick, efficient. It's crucial to use fine-tuned software systems to manage the workflow because there are many steps involved from start to finish. We use Broker Brain for everything – managing listings, offers, contracts, etc. Part of being quick and efficient is having the right team of people you unequivocally trust. We have a team of 10 people who each have important roles that keep things moving in an assembly line of sorts. Train them well, and delegate tasks over time as your assignments grow.

4. Build relationships with asset managers. Do everything you can to make the asset manager look good. Asset managers are the key, the gateway to getting more REO business. I don't bug them or call them unless I need to. I've met several asset managers in person. During the course of a foreclosure, I communicate constantly with them to provide updates on where things are in the process so they never have to guess. If they never have to call you to ask for something, you're ahead of the game.

5. Keep lines open with buyer's agents. Communicate with other agents through the Realtor remarks section of the MLS for each property. There, I detail how to access the property, contact my team and give general directions on how to work with us. It's important to set expectations up front – especially when it comes to response times and worksheets – so there's no confusion. Agents often write multiple offers on houses, so it's important the listing and buyer's agent are communicating well. When communication breaks between a buyer's agent and a listing agent, complications will come up, so stay in touch regularly. REO brokers don't have enough manpower, systems and time to service both sides of the transaction.

6. Build your reputation. We often adopt buyers who purchase our REO listings, and we can keep in touch with thank-you cards and newsletters. We donate a portion of each closing to Children's Miracle Network, and we make the donation in either the buyer's agent or asset manager's name. We have 50-75 closings a month, so that's a lot of donation cards. Whenever you thank people for their business or for working with you, they'll remember you. No matter the price range or distance, you need to treat all customers with respect and give them your best effort. 


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