FastHomeOffer.com is Growing Fast!

Fast Home Offer, our company dedicated to connecting motivated home sellers with real estate investors and agents is growing like crazy – and we need your help!

We are looking for the following amazing people to join the Fast Home Offer Team:

Phone Sales Superstar
Do you love talking to people and enjoy real estate?   We should talk!  Spend your time educating real estate professionals about Fast Home Offer and how you can help grow their business!

Executive Assistant
Insanely organized?  Love detail?  Have a bright and cheery disposition?  Calm under pressure?  Tech Savvy?  If you said yes, you might be the perfect person to join our team as an executive assistant.

UI/UX Designer
If you have great design skills, know Rails, and are looking for a great opportunity to impact real estate professionals around North America, let’s chat!

If you or anyone you know would be a good fit for these positions, give us a call at 888-424-4722 or contact us online!

 

 

 

Trademarks and We Buy Houses

How much do you value intellectual property your business?

At We Buy Houses, it’s one of our most important assets.  So much so that we’ve recently launched a Trademark and IP Portal to help educate real estate investors, educators, and technology providers about the We Buy Houses intellectual property.

Especially when it comes to Internet activity, there are generally two types of people that seriously violate copyrights, trademarks, and other IP.

The Uninformed

This is the person who just doesn’t know any better.  Prior to starting a business, I was one of these people.  Generally this person just doesn’t know any better and didn’t fully think through what they were doing and why it was wrong.   Here are a few examples of IP violations that this person might engage in:

  • Copying a website design they like and changing the company name to their own
  • Copying blocks of text off of another web site and using it themselves
  • Finding pictures on the Internet and using them in their website without permission/attribution
  • Using another company’s trademarks in marketing because “other people do it”

Most of the time, as soon as this person is made aware they are infringing on another company’s or person’s rights, they are apologetic and quickly fix the issue.

The Conniver

This is someone who knows what they are doing, and think they can get away with it and “beat the system”.  Generally The Conniver will copy a more successful company’s well-known trademarks (i.e. “We Buy Houses” or “Just Do It” or “Starbucks”) intentionally in order to trick consumers into thinking they are somehow associated with the larger company.

Unfortunately, The Conniver often times feels a sense of entitlement, and does not respond to notices or requests to stop infringing.  These people often end up with a lawsuit before realizing the severity of the game they are playing – costing tens of thousands in legal fees before the lesson is learned.

Take Away:  Don’t copy slogans, designs, images, websites, or marketing materials from others!  It will cost you much more than it is worth.

Learn more about Trademarks and Copyrights.

Fortune Magazine – Protect Your Ideas

I recently did an interview with Verne Harnish with Fortune Magazine about how we protect intellectual property at We Buy Houses®.  Here’s my excerpt and the full article below.

 

 

4. Play offense

Jeremy Brandt, whose Dallas real estate investing firm We Buy Houses owns the trademark to its brand, knows he has to stop infringers so he doesn’t lose control of the trademark. He has a team of legal interns track unauthorized uses — and the company’s efforts to stop copycats — in its customer relations management system. Once warned that they’re infringing on a federally protected trademark, some violators ask to license the brand. “This has helped our sales process,” he says.


Here’s full story from Fortune Magazine.

1. You snooze, you lose

Eighty-eight percent of big companies’ value is based on their brands, methodologies, content, training systems, and other innovations, and the same holds true for many smaller players, says attorney Andrew Sherman, a partner at Jones Day and the author of Harvesting Intangible Assets. Unfortunately, he says, many firms are “asleep at the switch” and don’t protect their assets — to their peril. Do an intellectual-property audit with your attorney to prevent rivals from monetizing your ideas.

2. Speed counts

Until 2013, you had to prove you invented something first to own it. Now, under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, the first to file for a patent usually wins, says Dallas intellectual-property attorney Russ Schultz. To beat lumbering Goliaths, apply now for provisional patents, which you can write in a week, to get a year’s protection, says Doug Hall, CEO of Cincinnati-area innovation systems company Eureka! Ranch. “To the nimble go all the rewards,” he says.

3. Lock down contracts

Insist that contractors for creative projects like writing software sign an ironclad work-for-hire agreement that says you own the copyright. Otherwise, the law assumes that they own it. Also, have staffers sign employment contracts that assign you ownership of their inventions. Have you forgotten to do this? “Now is the time to get it fixed,” says Sherman — especially if you plan to sell the firm. Prospective buyers will walk if you’re missing this paperwork.

4. Play offense

Jeremy Brandt, whose Dallas real estate investing firm We Buy Houses owns the trademark to its brand, knows he has to stop infringers so he doesn’t lose control of the trademark. He has a team of legal interns track unauthorized uses — and the company’s efforts to stop copycats — in its customer relations management system. Once warned that they’re infringing on a federally protected trademark, some violators ask to license the brand. “This has helped our sales process,” he says.

5. Hire legal veterans

You’ll be better off with seasoned pros in a boutique law firm than with inexperienced associates in a giant firm. “The quality is better and cost is lower if you can work with senior partners who have been doing patent prosecution for a long time,” says Andrew Levi, founder of Dallas digital marketing and analytics firm Blue Calypso. He has used that strategy to obtain and protect five patents, with six pending — vastly increasing the firm’s value.

 

Accelerator Program Launch

For the past year I’ve had the pleasure of serving as President of the non-profit Entrepreneurs’ Organization Dallas Chapter, and it has been a pleasure meet and learn from so many amazing and successful entrepreneurs in the Dallas / Fort worth area!

This year, we are launching an exciting new program called Accelerator!

If you are an entrepreneur, do you remember when you first started your company?

I do.

And I remember having to learn everything as I went, from from accounting, sales, and managing people, to strategy and defining my mission/vision & values. I made a lot of mistakes, and at each step, I tried to find mentors to guide me through the process so I could learn from their mistakes and grow my company faster.

My membership in Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) largely serves that function now, and has provided more real-world business education than any MBA could.

This is why we are starting Accelerator. To give early stage entrepreneurs the foundation to quickly grow their companies to over $1 million in annual revenue so they contribute more to the local & global economy, have a greater chance of long-term success, and qualify to join Entrepreneurs’ Organization for continued growth and learning.

Accelerator is part of our EO Mission – To Engage Leading Entrepreneurs to Learn and Grow – and is only for those individuals who are committed to company growth and are willing to dedicate the time, effort and learning required to do so.

This program is by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs, and affords participants the unique experience of learning from, and connecting with, the world’s most influential entrepreneurs.

ACCELERATOR FAST FACTS

  • Accelerator is a program of Entrepreneurs’ Organization
  • Applicants must have gross revenue of $250k to $999k in the previous 12 months, and be a founder or majority owner of their company
  • This program is non-profit, and entirely funded by sponsors and Accelerator participants
  • Only 30 applicants are accepted each year, with a focus on those dedicated to company growth
  • This is an annual program with 3 years of curriculum. The expectation is that within 24-36 months a participant will graduate to over $1 million in revenue and exit the program
  • The program consists of:
    — Monthly accountability group meetings made up of 4 participants and an EO mentor
    — Quarterly learning days focused on Strategy, Sales, People and Finance
  • This curriculum is best of breed, and was selected by the U.S. State Department for their “Entrepreneurs for a New Beginning” program

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

There are many ways to get involved and support the Accelerator program!

  1. Mentor – if you’re an EO member, share your entrepreneurial expertise and experience with early stage companies
  2. Nominate – do you know an early stage entrepreneur who wants to grow?  nominate them for membership
  3. Support – give back to the entrepreneurial community by sponsoring Accelerator
  4. Apply – apply to be a participant in the Accelerator Program
  5. Attend – if you are an EO member, attend the Accelerator learning days!
  6. Follow – we’ll be blogging about the process and participants, listen in as we tell the stories of success!

Join me on this exciting journey, and I promise you will be inspired, learn a lot, and grow along with the rest of us!

Jeremy Brandt
CEO, 1-800-CashOffer, FastHomeOffer.com
2010/11 – EO Dallas Chapter President
2011/12 – Accelerator Program Champion

Wasted Marketing & the $20k Phone Call

Do you spend thousands of dollars on marketing and then waste the interaction it creates?

I run a company that spends a lot of time and money connecting home sellers with real estate professionals.  One of our biggest struggles is convincing real estate agents and investors to treat every phone call, every lead, as if it had $50,000 attached to it.

Especially in small businesses, we tend to get back to people “when it’s convenient” – well, that doesn’t work in the Internet world, where 50 of your competitors are 1 click away and ready to respond faster and better than you are.

And you may not even know it’s happening – most customers won’t say “someone else called me back before you did, so I’m working with them” – they just won’t call you back at all, leaving you to wonder what happened.

In the Internet economy – the research shows that if you take more than 15 minutes to get back to any new prospect who contacts you via a your web site, or a lead who fills out a form, or someone who leaves you a phone message – your chances plummet of ever working with them at all.

That’s something to think about when spending thousands of dollars or more each month trying to reach qualified customers.

Seth Godin (marketing genius and author) has a great post on his blog about this – and how letting an employee who isn’t amazing at customer service answer the phone can waste all your marketing dollars…

The $20,000 phone call

When a homeowner decides to put his house on sale and calls a broker…

When he calls the moving company…

When a family arrives in town and calls someone recommended as the family doctor…

When a wealthy couple calls their favorite fancy restaurant looking for a reservation…

Go down the list. Stockbrokers, even hairdressers. And not just people who recently moved. When a new referral shows up, all that work and expense, and then the phone rings and it gets answered by your annoyed, overworked, burned out, never very good at it anyway receptionist, it all falls apart.

What is the doctor thinking when she allows her neither pleasant nor interested in new patients receptionist to answer the phone?

— Seth Godin

Home Sales Up in March Says NAR – 1/3 are ALL CASH

The National Association of Realtors came out with their regular report on the housing market, and they are saying that existing home sales are up 3.7% for March.

That number isn’t all the interesting – but here’s what is:

All-cash sales were at a record market share of 35 percent in March, up from 33 percent in February; they were 27 percent in March 2010. Investors accounted for 22 percent of sales activity in March, up from 19 percent in February; they were 19 percent in March 2010. The balance of sales were to repeat buyers.

This means that all-cash transactions are one third of the current residential real estate market.  Real estate investors are coming back in a big way, with big money behind them.

With thousands of home sellers contacting us each month at 1-800-CashOffer and FastHomeOffer.com, I can confirm that much of the real estate market is made up of cash buyers and sellers looking for a cash offer.

What your e-mail address says about you

CNN has a story today about “What your email address says about you“, largely in response to Facebook releasing their pseudo-email platform.

The story was tongue in cheek, but many business people (especially older ones) don’t realize the message they are sending with their email address.  If you have any type of business or professional service (real estate agent, CPA, lawyer, restaurant, etc) there is no excuse to not have an email address @yourcompanyname.comIt costs nothing.

Here’s my favorite from CNN’s article:

@aol.com = You are over 70 and still have the same email address you did in 1997

Fair or not, if you send an e-mail from an Aol account, the recipient is likely to expect it to be spam, a forward of some thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory or pictures of kittens.

Walking Away from a Foreclosure & Strategic Defaults – 60 Minutes

The other day 60 Minutes ran another report on “Strategic Defaults” as they are called – home owners who are underwater in their mortgage and walk away from their home (causing a foreclosure) even though they have the ability to continue with mortgage payments.

The most interesting thing about the story was a University of Arizona paper entitled “Underwater and Not Walking Away: Shame Fear and the Social Management of the Housing Crisis”  (Typical University title for a paper!)

It’s a fascinating read if you have some time.  We can debate all day long the ethics of home owners walking away from their obligations, but the fact that it’s happening isn’t in dispute – and real estate agents, investors and other professionals should be thinking through the ramifications of it for their business.

Most home owners don’t realize (or maybe don’t care) that there are many alternatives that are much better than a foreclosure – a loan modification or short sale are all much better alternatives to giving up and walking away.

Here is the 60 minutes segment

Distressed Home Sellers are 29% of Home Sale Market

According to the “Distressed Sales Activity” report from First American CoreLogic, First American Core Logicdistressed home sales are on the rise again, accounting for an amazing 29% of all home sales in the month of January.

Nearly 1 Million distressed sales occurred last year, which includes short sales and real estate owned (REO) property.

Distressed property sales are at their highest levels since April of 2009.

Expect to see this trend to continue – there is still a lot of pent-up housing inventory in the system, banks are finally starting to liquidate their REO portfolios faster, and there is a strong focus on completing short sales quicker.

Real estate agents and investors should keep their eyes on the distressed property numbers, this will be a very large part of the market for the next few years!