Robert Clarfield: Jumping in with Both Feet

“There's a lot of hand holding when it's first-time home buyers. I enjoy it. I love it. I love getting a new home for a new home buyer.”

For the past 12 years, Robert Clarfield has been a part-time real estate agent, mostly helping friends and family and staying active in the industry, but not fully committing to it. But after 20 years working in the IT industry, he hit a wall.

“I was just completely done. I really loved real estate and spoke to my wife and we just decided, you know, go for it. So, I left the IT industry at the end of August and went full time, full speed ahead into real estate.

“Been in real estate for August, September, October, November, December, January — about six months now, full time. It's definitely a learning curve. I was used to that every two-week paycheck and it's different, but we're doing good. I mean, I'm doing really well actually.”

We recently called Robert to talk about his success using his books as a “new agent” to reach first-time home buyers.

Authorify: What is the market like where you’re working?

Robert: I'm in Arizona, so I love the weather here and the industry here is really interesting right now. I'm sure it's interesting everywhere, but it's definitely a seller's market right now. Huge. Obviously like everybody else, we're low on inventory, but I'm working with a lot of buyers, and they're buying. They're just having to go up higher than originally anticipated.

Authorify: So something that was really interesting about your email that you sent was how you're working with the first-time home buyers after they click on your digital book link. Is that correct?

Robert: Yes. So I started doing some Boosts, which I'm not a big fan of Boosts on Facebook. But I think, you know, 10, 20, 30 bucks, I'm like, "All right. I'll try it and see." And then if that doesn't work, I'll try some actual real advertising ads. So, I went ahead and did a $30 boost and boom, I got like, three of them actually — three leads — and I'm calling them leads because I don't call it a lead unless it's a solid lead. Two of them were interesting because I'm not sure how they got access to my book, but they downloaded my book and I gave him a call immediately, and they're moving from Chicago to Arizona and I've already got them put them in my database. They're looking at homes already. They're calling me almost every day. They're scheduled to come here next month, and we're going to start looking at some homes for them.

And the other one is local, and I'm meeting with them next week. We've got it scheduled next week to go to look at some homes. So I'm like, "okay". And you know, they're liking the books. So I have, right now I have the Buyer's Guide Book and Seller's Guide Book. And the seller's Guide Book, I actually have digital of course, and also about 10 copies of … which I do like. Actually, I brought one to a sales presentation, and they were really excited to see that and they've actually asked for an additional copy to give to some of their friends. So I'm like, "Great. Absolutely!" So, I've done that and I don't have the Buyer Book yet, but I plan on picking that up hopefully this week probably.

Authorify: Especially in Arizona, do you get a lot of people that are relocating there?

Robert: Yeah. Especially from either the East Coast, or we're getting people a lot now from California.

Authorify: So this boost that you set up... I mean, if they're seeing it in California, did you set up any kind of parameters for it, or how did that work?

Robert: That's the interesting thing. So I actually looked at it and I'm like, "OK," and I'm looking at my boost and I realized that I did. I did put it in New York, California, and Chicago. So I did put in all three of those, and it showed my reach potential was pretty high up there. And I did, like I said, the $30 and when I saw the feedback I got and like, "Alright, I'm going to do another $30." You know, and I kept the same criteria, the same search criteria and I just did another $30. I literally just started that on, today actually.

Authorify: Oh, wow. That's awesome.

Robert: Yeah. And I'll probably start adding more of that again. So I'm doing it on Facebook, which is where I seem to be getting the most feedback. I've gotten one or two from Instagram, and I just started also using LinkedIn for it, as well. I haven't received much feedback yet on Linkedin, but it's only been about two weeks. And what I do is I actually, about every two weeks, I pin it to my top in Facebook, but then about every two weeks, I switch off between the buyer book and the seller book. So like every week, I'm re-submitting it on my Facebook page and on my LinkedIn page and on my Instagram page. Every week, I'm splitting it between, one week I'll do the buyer book, then I'll do the seller book. So, I don't want to do it every day, obviously. But, like once a week, I put each one of them up and I'm hoping that once things start building up — my sphere of influence and starting to get more leads — I'd like to look at the other options as well on Authorify, the divorce leads books and all the other ones that are out there.

Authorify: It's funny, with the boosting post, I actually talked to another gentleman a while back who clicked the wrong button and his post went worldwide. He got a guy from Germany moving to his area, so you never know where it's going to come from.

Robert: Right, absolutely. I do notice every once in a while, I do get one from my email signature, which is nice because I do have that in my email signature. And I also use the other material that you guys have, like the marketing material, the blogs and things like that. So I post those, and those seem to get a lot of good feedback, as well. I try to post the newsletter ... like once a month, and I also use a lot of your other templates, such as for calling FSBOs and I'm doing this and doing that. And those seem to help also because I do use other services also. I see which ones are going to be bringing in the most leads, and I'll tell you right now definitely Authorify I am continuing. There's no question about it. I'm starting to get leads from it more than I am from some of the other sources, and I use other services, as well. That's why I'm mostly going to look into the other books, as well. And I also like the magazine that you guys have.

Authorify: Yeah, the Referral Marketing Magazine. We just got that going, and it’s doing really well for people. We are getting a lot of great feedback from that.

Robert: Yeah, so that's something else I want to look into. Because I liked it. I saw a sample of it, and thought it was pretty cool.

Authorify: You talked about not having a huge budget, and that's where those things like the email signature, it doesn't cost anything to put it in there and get eyeballs on your book.

Robert: Absolutely. Yeah. And those are the things, you know, that you can start out doing that don't don't cost anything. I mean, you know, putting it on your own Facebook page, putting it on your own Instagram page, putting it on your own LinkedIn page. You know, one of the things I'm also going to do now, putting it on YouTube. So one of the things I'm doing now is I really want to start doing some more videos on YouTube. So what I'm going to do is actually, I just bought a green screen, and I'm going to get copies of both of my books. … What I want to do is, do a kind of like each week do a chapter summary of each chapter. So this week, we'll talk about chapter one and I'll summarize the chapter for people. And then also of course, let them know that if they would like a copy of the book, here's a way to get a copy of the book, et cetera.

So I'm going to start doing that for the buyer's book. And then I'm going to start doing that for the seller's book, as well. So, in my green screen, in my background, I'm going to sit the books up on a table, the buyer's books and the seller's books, and use that kind of like the way it was done when I was watching the first demo you guys did.

Authorify: That's great to hear. I was talking to another gentleman and he does YouTube videos, and at the end, he has almost like a little ad for them and it drives people to his landing page.

Robert: I haven't done the videos yet. I'll be honest, I've been a little camera shy, but I'm trying to avoid that now and starting to just open up and go out there. … And you know, there's apps now where you can have like a script, you know, right in front of you.

Authorify: So with the first-time home buyers, what are some of the nuances that those buyers have over some of the more experienced home buyers? What do you do to help them through the process?

Robert: So what I really like to do is — and I'll be honest, I do this with most clients, except for the ones that, of course, I deal with some investors and they know what they're doing, so you don't need to do too much. But first-time home buyers, I really try to explain to them the process. You know, number one, I try to explain to them that there are programs available to them for different types of loans, especially new home buyers. You have your FHA loan, you have your first home buyers loan. And then I try to explain to them about pre-qualification. It's so important, especially in today's market, before you take the buyer out there and start showing them homes, they've got to have that prequalification. It's not a luxury anymore; it's a requirement.

You know, so I explain to them about how we go about getting them pre-qualified. Some of them don't even have an idea what's going on. So I have, of course, vendors that I work with. We work on getting them pre-qualified, and I explain to them, "OK, now that we've got you're pre-qualified and you're qualified for $250,000 or $300,000, let's talk about what you're really going to need. You know, your down payment, what your different costs are going to be involved in this, paying for the home inspection." Because really now, there's really not any seller concessions at this point. They've got to pay for the appraisal, they've got to pay for the home inspection, and they've got to pay for the homeowner's warranty. So I want them to know upfront, you're going to have $2,000 of earnest money.

And then it's the earnest money also, once you make the offer. What I've noticed is, $1,000 used to be fine. No problem. Now it's like, they want $2,000, $3,000, $4,000 and $5,000 of earnest money, you know? And one of the new things I'm seeing now also is hard earnest money versus just standard earnest money. So standard earnest money is that, "Well, if the deal goes through, I can get back my earnest money." Hard earnest money tells the seller "I'm buying, but don't worry about it." So if the deal doesn't go through, I lose my earnest money and the seller gets to keep my earnest money. I don't like to do those with my first-time home buyers because they're nervous already, but that's something. So I'm working on some ideas about, how to explain the process of the home-buying experience with somebody. What really is a pre-qualification? How important is your credit score? These are some of the videos that I'm going to be working on, as well.

I've got some clients that have excellent credit, and to me, excellent credit is anything over 700. 650 or better, I can work with that; I can get creative, but I can make it. You know, 500, 550, now we're having concerns. But, I was working with one client that had a lower credit rating, and I got them with a credit service company, a good solid one and just spoke to him actually last week, he got his credit score up. He's at 648 now. So we're like, OK, we can start playing with that number now. So he's ready. So we're going to start working with him.

So that's typically how I run through it with them, and then once we get all of that taken care of, now let's go have some fun because buying your first home. It's gotta be fun. If it's not fun, then you don't have the right Realtor. You need to go out there, you need to look at homes and really let them have fun seeing these homes. You know, and then I talk about, of course, the offer. And especially right now, I talked to them like if the home's been on the market for one day, it's going to go. It's going to go quick. You know, you can't wait a week anymore. And that's the hard thing to explain to new home buyers. They want to think about it. In today's market, you think about it, it's gone.

Authorify: Yeah. 've had so many people tell me the house wasn't even on the MLS yet. And it was sold.

Robert: Yeah, absolutely. Now, I do tell them, "OK. Let's say we find a house that you like, and it's been on the market for 66 days. OK. So now, we've got some negotiation room because I mean, OK, you look at the house, you like it, there's a reason why it's been on the market for 66 days. So now we need to figure out why, but we can also go in at a lower offer if it's been on the market for that long." So, I think that's been working for me really well, and I think you've really got to be — there's a lot of handholding when it's a first-time home buyer. I enjoy it. I love it. I love getting a new home for new home buyer. It's probably going to be the largest purchase that they ever do. Maybe not in their entire life, but definitely their first largest purchase that they've ever done.

Authorify: Well, and also, everybody remembers that first home they bought. That's the one you remember; that's the one where you started your life.

Robert: You know, that first home that you bought it, this was my home. And then of course, when it's time to sell it, you have the sellers that think, "I put my blood, sweat and tears. It's worth $700,000." Well, no. In the market, it's going for $520,000. So that's some negotiation that needs to be done.”

Authorify: With these first-time home buyers, do you actively market to that specific group?

Robert: What I'm noticing is that yes, I am doing that. I am going toward the more first-time home buyers. Now have I done other homeowners? Sure, absolutely. I'm not going to turn away business. But yeah, I do see myself marketing toward the first-time home buyers. You know, even though I know, and I'll be honest, a lot of first-time home buyers are under that $500,000 mark. I mean, yes making the money is important to me, but it's also the gratitude and seeing somebody make that first investment, that first home-buying decision.

Some of the stories I hear, just so, so depressing. Like I gotta find this person a home, you know? I like spending the time with my clients. I don't mind showing them 15, 20, 30 homes, whatever. As long as they're qualified, I know that we're going to find them a home. It may take some time, but we're going to find them that right home, and I don't want them going into the wrong home. And that's the thing. I want to make sure that the home that they go into is the right home for them.

Authorify: Well, I think that's so smart what you're doing, especially just starting out. You're six months into it, and all of these people that are first-time home buyers, three, four or five years down the road, they're going to be looking to upgrade.

Robert: Right, exactly. I have one woman now that I got through as a sphere of influence actually from somebody that I helped them find a home and she's downsizing. So she's going to be buying, she's going to be selling. We're putting her home on the market in the next week or two, and she's downsizing. So she's going from a house that's worth probably right now around $500,000 and she's going to take the profit and she wants to just get a nice house, a little smaller house for like around $250,00 to $300,000, but she wants to pay cash for it. So, you know, she's going to use the profit from that house and, she doesn't want a mortgage payment anymore. She just wants to be in a nice, smaller home, and that's it. So I'm like, great for me. It's double commission. For me, that's great.

Authorify: Right. So, one of the things you talked about was the, having the get everybody's with first time home buyers, there are a lot of checks that people maybe don't know quite about. And so how important is it to have all of that knowledge for you to know, like all of the, everything that they qualify for, how to work with their credit score, how to work with these companies that can help them out?

Robert: Yeah. It's extremely important. I mean, most of them don't come to me with all that information. You know, most of them don't even know what a prequalification is. They have no idea. "Ok. Who do I talk to about getting pre-qualified?" Some of them do understand their credit score. I actually have one that I'm working with right now that I didn't know too much about is that he doesn't have a bad credit, he has no credit. So he's paid everything with cash and he's in his 30s and I mean, he doesn't have a credit card. I'm talking to my broker like, "OK, how do I do this?" You know, and he wants a loan. He doesn't want to pay cash. He wants a loan, but he doesn't have credit. So there's actually banks that work specifically with people that don't. They don't have bad credit; they don't have good credit. They just need to show certain things. You know, specific bank statements over the last three years showing that they have income, that they have money in their accounts. And then typically, you can make the loan work. And I am working with one right now, and he got approved and I was shocked. I didn't think he'd get approved for $200,000, and he actually got approved for $500,000. I guess his accounts were pretty good. I'm like, "I guess you're good to go!"

Authorify: I really love how you get enjoyment out of it, through their experience. I think that's so important in life, in general. You’ve got to have fun with what you're doing.

Robert: And I'll be honest, that's one of the reasons why I left the IT industry. I just wasn't having any fun anymore, and I'm like, this is a second career for me. I may not look it, but I'm 52. And I wanted a new change and want to make this real estate business $15 million a year, gross income. And my wife's actually a Realtor also. She actually does it part-time as well. I'm full-time now, but she's part-time, so she helps me out when I need it. We keep her license active, so if I need her help, she's there. At one point, hopefully she'll leave her current position and we'll just be together, the two of us, running the real estate business.

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