16 Feb How to Pivot Into the TERMS Niche From Other Areas of Real Estate
When I first moved to DC for graduate school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I ended up meeting somebody, getting married, and having two kids. Fast-forward 50 years. I’ve been here in the DC area pretty much all that time except for a year back in New York, where I was born and raised to be a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. I also spent three years in San Francisco and a year in Dallas. But aside from that, I spent a good 50 years here in the DC area.
I spent most of that time in commercial real estate—primarily office sales leasing—and later got into investment sales. I was doing acquisitions in a partnership with an individual out in the Bay.
Area, in San Francisco. I found myself doing business development in commercial real estate for construction firms or architects. But after 50 years, it got old. It was the same people, the same day, over and over. I felt like I was living in Groundhog Day.
Then I got into something very exciting, and I felt that it would be my last step on the path to retirement: in 2006, I came back from Dallas to open up the regional office for a very large real estate investment sales operation. I had six salespeople working for me. Then 2008 happened and my world was turned upside down. I lost pretty much everything and had to start over, so I did business development again for a while. I had made the decision to just tuck and roll, whimper in the corner, give up on my dream of being an entrepreneur, and just try to make a living. I took various jobs, I worked for various companies, and they were all just jobs. They weren’t soul-stirring or exciting. They paid the bills.
For about 10 years, I thought that’s the way my life was going to be until it was over. I don’t know what it was that changed my mind, exactly. Some reading I was doing led me to look into residential real estate as an investment, and I took the path everybody takes: I went to seminars, listened to webinars, read books, enrolled in courses—spent thousands of dollars on courses—and somehow that windy, twisty road led to Chris Prefontaine and Smart Real Estate Coach and his family team. The rest, as they say, is history. That was a little over a year ago.
The Terms Business is Different
The terms business is totally different from what I was doing: first of all, I was always selling. I was always pushing, whether it was to acquire a building on behalf of a client, sell a client’s building, or get some company to commit to the office space I was representing. I was representing office space to landlords. It was always, always selling, especially in the business development field, where I was basically whining and begging and crying for them to allow my client to bid on an opportunity, whether they got the job or not. I did my job if I at least got them into the game.
I’m not selling anything in my new terms business with Chris and the team. First of all, my posture is that I’m a buyer, not a real estate agent or working for one in any capacity. That completely disarms people who get a phone call from me, because I’m basically here to educate them about a very different option that’s available if they have an open mind: “I would like to buy your property; let’s explore that together.” It’s more of a collaborative approach. It’s a lot more relaxed, and it’s more of a personal engagement with another person. Buying or selling a home is an emotional process for people, and I really enjoy getting to that level. I’ve missed that my whole career. So this is a brand new thing for me, and it’s providing me with a great opportunity for growth as well as a great opportunity to make a lot of money. It’s perfect.
Getting in with Chris and His Team
Chris and I have talked about how I spent money on courses before I found him, as many people do. I’m sure some people are reluctant to join up with Chris because they feel they’ve already spent a lot of money, and it came to nothing. My answer to that is that past failures have very little to do with what you’re doing today. Also, it’s okay to make a mistake—learn from it.
That last course or that last guru, that so-called “mentor,” that teacher that you threw in with who didn’t work out for you—were they hands-on? Were they with you every step of the way? Are they doing deals today? Do they speak from experience, as opposed to book knowledge? That’s critical.
What attracted me to Chris, frankly—and I’ve told him this a dozen times—is the whole family operation. I also love that he’s blunt and to the point; that really speaks to who I am. But it’s not just Chris: it’s his son Nick and his daughter Kayla and his son-in-law Zach and the rest of their team members who were all there with me from the very beginning, every step of the way. I felt very comfortable that if I was going to make a mistake, I had somebody there to point out the error of my ways and gently put me on the correct path. And that is exactly what’s happened. The coaching has been phenomenal, and it comes down to personality. You can mesh with these people and they are truly there to walk by your side as you go on the journey. That was the big thing for me.
I’m very disorganized, so what happens when I come to Chris’s team and visit his office? Everything is in order. Everything is organized, everything is peaceful, and everything seems to be on track. That really stuck with me. Also, I get to see how a company operates, and I want to be exactly like that company. I get to take that back with me and it reminds me this is not an impossible task, to become more organized. These people are doing exactly what I want to be doing. It was the same thing when Chris came down to DC and helped me rearrange my office and set up processes and procedures. It was huge for me to have him here. But going up to the mothership (their office) is the biggest thing. I love these guys, every one of them. The office visit, which is free for Associates, is just invaluable.
We have a constant dialogue on Slack, which Chris initiated. It’s a private group on a private channel for Associates only, and it’s like having 24/7 access to 30–40 wonderful, like-minded people in a mastermind—amazing. And every now and then, I’ll get a call from one of the other Associates, or I’ll call them. The Associates keep up with each other, and I know that I helped some of them get over the finish line and become part of the Smart Real Estate Coach community. I have a genuine affection for them and I root for these people constantly. I want success for them, and I also get great advice from them.
To anyone who is interested in switching into the TERMS niche from another area of real estate, my advice is simple: join a community, get a coach, and just give it a shot. I think a lot of people reading this who are currently in other areas of real estate can probably relate to my comments in the beginning about doing the same thing every day and always selling.
If you want to build something for yourself that's bigger than just a “job,” you owe it to yourself to at least explore this niche. I think you'll be surprised at what you find and how easy it is to make the transition if you have someone helping you along the way.