Internet Safety Frequently Asked Questions

Facebook Advertising

There seems to be a trend towards Facebook Advertising. There are many phases of Facebook Advertising. The first is of course doing it the easy way. Go on Facebook and place an ad. Then see if Facebook can live up to their claims. As usual, Real Estate advertising on any media brings out the wannabes. Those people who would like to buy a house, but never did the proper planning. And maybe, just maybe, a Facebook ad will bring in a new buyer or seller. But at what cost? There is the initial cost. Which is rather low compared to most social media outlets. But there is a time commitment. You have to try a number of ads to target different groups of buyers. Then you have to be wary of all the anti-discrimination laws and of course the way people view them. By groups, I am talking about price ranges and general interests.

Any type of advertising can work or fail. So – in steps the advertising consultants and experts. The problem is, most of them never sold a house. They have no idea what the Real Estate business is about. So they plaster the media with half hearted ads that may be less effective than any ad you designed yourself. If you are in Real Estate, you are supposed to know what people want. The best advertising Real Estate Agents can do is to present themselves as the expert in their field. What kind of impression does a Real Estate Agent make when they hire people to do a simple task for them?

Go with the simple ads that attract attention and show you are the expert – like:

What is the market doing in your neighborhood?

How can you be sure the Title work is complete and accurate when you buy your next home?

Real Estate Agents know and recommend the BEST Lenders based on their experience of actually working with them.

Those are questions every home buyer and seller needs to know. Stick with knowledge Buyers and Sellers need to know. Then step in as the expert in the field.

Of course Facebook adverting hatched a new set of scammers. Let’s face it. Many people with nothing more than a laptop, and some at Internet cafes launched a personal business trying to pass themselves off as Facebook adverting experts. Like I said, they know nothing about buying or selling homes, but they compete for your business. That is a dangerous road to travel. They can place you in hot water because they know nothing about the adverting laws Real Estate agents and brokers have to follow. You are the expert. You are supposed to know these things. If you don’t know them, you probably shouldn’t have a license.

Of course there are a few legitimate adverting companies who use Facebook as a media. And they may bring you in new business. On the other hand, you have to be wary of the fly by night businesses. Many of them are from overseas. Many of them are not registered and licensed businesses. You are supposed to be the expert. The NAR and congress placed the responsibility of being experts on Internet scams on the shoulders of Real Estate Brokers. We are supposed to be up on the subject and able to share that information with our clients. The NAR has articles on the subject, plans, and information we are able to share. Did you read it? Are you the expert you claim to be?

And of course there are companies out there that are what I refer to as snakes in the grass. Those are companies who try to recruit unsuspecting people and convince them they will make a fortune after taking their classes and training on being Facebook advertising experts. Beware of those snakes on the Internet.

They are good at adverting. They send out millions of emails. They use Facebook to advertise. They look like they know what they are doing. But they will never give you the step by step process you need to succeed. All they have is a script designed to separate a fool from their money.
I’ve looked onto one of those scammers. They claim to offer FREE classes, videos, books, and such. But that requires a monthly membership. I’ve even seen churches use that scam to offer Bible Studies and training. What is this world coming to? I’ve also seen this used in Real Estate Investing. I’ve seen people loose thousands of dollars. So I wrote an article about that. And it save thousands of people money.

When I look at the books the Facebook adverting scammers offer, it is like I am reading one of those self help books from the 1980’s. Remember those days? Self help books were all around. We had PC’s. That is short for personal computers. The computer was housed in a big tower. The screen was 14 or 15 inches and weighed a ton. But those computers worked. Many of those self help books concentrated on that new computer thing. Looking back I can see how useless those books were. The authors knew nothing about fixing computers. So they never give you any idea how to trouble shoot a computer, take it part, replace parts, or put together a custom computer. Those authors didn’t know a thing about programming. But they wrote about how you should be motivated to take advantage of the coming trend. None of those authors in the 1980’s saw anything like Amazon or Google. But they wrote about being in that 1% that would succeed and make a fortune. In other words, those books never told anyone how to actually take the first step to being successful. Those authors made millions and proved, you don’t have to have brains, know how, or experience to write books and make millions.

The books today copy the same ideas. If you ask me, they copy entire chapters from those old books. If you need a motivational book save yourself some money. Go online and buy some old used books. They have the same information as the new books. And neither will give you any idea of that the first step is to start a business.

Okay let’s let reality sink in for a moment. Some guy is telling you how to think outside the crowd and get rich. Well what is the first step? Of course the 1st step is to write a business plan. They all use scripts to scam money. But they are not gong to share that secret. Then you need to crunch some figures to set up a budget. Another detail those books, seminars, and videos seem to omit. Then you need to file for a business license and register in your state. Some of those scammers actually have a registered business. They went through the process and should be able to explain it to you. But they don’t. They don’t give a damn about you or anyone else. All they want is your charge card number.

Of course I am writing from the views of a Real Estate Agent. I am actually a licensed Broker and I own my own business. I am in the process of adding new Agents. I expect to find and work with Agents who know how to do their job. Like filing for the business license. They have to know about Internet security. And they have to know a lot about marketing. How are you going to sell a $500,000 house for a client if you don’t know how to generate your own leads? I put Agents who are experts in the field. They are Independent Contractors running their own business. And they better be able to prove they know what they are doing. My training is designed to make great Agents better. I don’t want to see one of them or anyone else falling to these new Facebook adverting scams.

Internet Safety Frequently Asked Questions

What Lures People Into an Online Scam

So you want to get rich in Real Estate. You don’t have much money, but you heard all the stories of how people broke the system and made it rich in Real Estate. The Internet is full of Real Estate Scams with one intent…. to quickly part a fool and the little money they have. Not only are these scam artists using the Internet, they have enough guts to hold seminars in major cities to collect more money. I can tell you —- beyond any doubt —- the only thing these people know about Real Estate is their scripted plan to suck money out of victims with high hopes and dreams of making it out of this depressed economy we seem stuck in. Let me show you how it works.

How Online Real Estate Scams Work

Charges begin at the very beginning. After a free introduction online or at a local meeting which consists of NO USEFUL information —- ONLY a load of hype, people fall for these plans like an unsuspecting fish goes for a shinny lure. Things look so good, fees seem like a small investment. Let me tell you what you are investing in. There is a scripted system you are investing in. This scripted system is not designed to make any money for you! It is a system to put money in the pockets of this carefully formed network of thieves. The first charge is a set of lessons, either online or a condensed live seminar. They will tell you about some secret list of foreclosed properties. Here is the hook. They tell you only certain Real Estate Agents get this list! Any suggestion of a separate list is against local MLS rules and agreements all Real Estate Agents share. Every licensed Real Estate Agent must sign an agreement to share all their listings with all other Agents on the local MLS. There is no secret foreclosure list. These people are trying to impress you will false information. Some of them are trying to get you to work with agents they hand pick, but this is very rare. It doesn’t take much effort to gather a list of new, inexperienced agents eager to make their first sale. All these people need to do is check public records to find newly licensed Agents, who may not know what they are falling into.

The next step is to provide you with a pre-approval letter or proof of funds letter. Boy — Do these people look like an answer to prayer. After paying a fee, you get a letter and these people promise to give you money to invest in their system without checking your credit. This is too good to be true! That’s because it is not true! There is a world of difference between a letter and cold hard cash. Of course there is a fee for the letter, and a fee for a credit check, another fee for an appraisal, another fee because they feel like sucking more from you. That’s the system you are buying into. All the money flows one way!

If you happen to have funds, you can elevate to their next level of scams. You get the gold script!!! This is what they will tell you. They will tell you how to bid. Of course you have to get an offer accepted. They will tell you about their plan that never fails —- and it sounds good. But of course will never work in the end. Here is their plan. Over bid on the property. The way they explain it makes sense. After all they are trusting you with their money…. all they are asking for is your trust in return. WHAT A SCAM! You have not seen a dime from them and they are pulling the TRUST ME CARD. By this point you paid them thousands and received nothing but promises. And now you are paying for some of the worst advice I have ever heard. Of course the best properties receive multiple bids and you have to find a way of getting your offer accepted. They tell you once you over bid and get the contact, which they tell you is a legal binding contract…. which is about the only truthful matter they will tell you, the Seller and you are bound by the contract. What they fail to tell you is, asset managers seldom negotiate price after you sign a contract. There is nothing in the contract saying the Seller has to deal on the price. When you fall for this scam, you missed one very important point! The Seller has a group of cash buyers waiting in the wings who can close in a hurry. The Seller can tell you to take a walk. In the mean time, you lost more money on the scam. They tell you they have a network of inspectors to look over the property, give you a report and instruct you on how to use their report to negotiate. Two problems here. Number one, you pay them for the inspection. More money for them. Number 2 – they DO NOT use state licensed inspectors. The contracts I use in Wisconsin states: A State Licensed Inspector must be used. You just wasted your money. Any Listing Agent with a year of experience will take one look at that report and know it is a fake. When I see this, I call the so called inspector and ask for his state license number. Guess, what… the house of cards immediately folds. Next on the scripted plan to part you from your money is the fake contractors. More money out of your pocket, more in theirs. Now here is the real heart break for innocent buyers like yourself. According to the contract you have 10 days or so for an inspection. If you don’t have a good agent, that time disappears. You lost that contingency to back out of the contract and get your earnest money deposit back. The worst part of this scam is the time it takes. Before you know it, time runs out, you fail to close and find yourself in a position to loose your earnest money deposit. Notice how you are the one putting up all the money…. and they are the ones making the money? When time runs out, you are in what is known as breach of contract. You failed to fulfill your part of the agreement. Some Sellers are insisting they keep the earnest money. At this time it appears to be the only way to combat this scam. Most of the time Buyers will get their earnest money returned but when Sellers see this scam, they may not be so lenient. Collecting earnest money is a long process most Sellers will not want to go through, but one Seller instructed me to go through the long drawn out process. In the end the Buyer lost the earnest money. The whole process is nothing but a waste of time for everyone involved and a waste of money for the Buyer.

Beware the Bite

There are other details the scam artists share to appear they are looking out for you. They show you how to alter standard contracts. They want to create the appearance they have your interests at heart, but make no mistake, these scam artists are looking out for themselves. Here is a short list for you to copy and paste. If you ever attend any of these scam artist’s meetings, you can go down this list with a smile on your face and your money in your pocket.

Unexpected Fees

  • They charge fees. Every experienced Real Estate Agent has worked with successful investors and is willing to share information for free.
  • Look out for useless hype.
  • Look out for facts and figures from outside the market area you want to invest in.
  • Look out for a system insisting one size fits all.
  • Look out for secret lists and inside information only a few people have.
  • Look out for networks they may claim to have.
  • If you did pay fees for training…. get out the first time you see a fee they forgot to mention.
  • Shy away from advice on how to alter state approved contracts.
  • Avoid systems which suggest negotiations after signing a legal binding contract.
  • Avoid systems telling you to over bid without providing you with current market conditions.
  • Avoid systems based on national statistics.
  • Avoid systems which teach you how to use an inspection to renegotiate purchase price.
  • Run from all inspectors, contractors, and LENDERS who cannot produce proof of a state license. 

The only system that works involves a few simple steps.

  1. Invest in an area you know and are comfortable with.
  2. Get a list of market reports for the area and know the current trend.
  3. Know market prices for both REO purchases and resale prices for turn key properties.
  4. Work with a reliable, licensed general contractor if you are not capable of doing all the repairs yourself.
  5. Get a little background on local ordinances for vacant properties and building codes
  6. Have your own team in place including a licensed Real Estate Agent, Lender, Inspector, and contractors. Form your organization.
  7. Keep expectations realistic…. the current market will do more to determine your success than any other detail.

The Future of Computer Robots in Real Estate

I’ve been receiving a high volume of emails this past few weeks. Those emails are trying to sell me the latest trend in Real Estate, a computer robot that takes all my emails and messages then answers them for me. What a farce. Do you as a customer or client want to speak to me or a computer? To me using a robot is way below the ethics code I developed for my company. I prefer to place my own word on my company. Not the word of some computer programmer who has no Real Estate experience, never sold a house, was never present at a single showing, has no idea what the contracts are, and never attended an inspection or closing. I don’t care what people believe computers can do. Having a personality is not one of them. Computers have no feelings. They can only do what they are instructed to do and that is it. That’s my decision and I am sticking to it.

I’ve been involved with computers since the DOS age. I’ve helped develop many of the computer programs used by today’s CAD drafting systems. We can program a computer to perform a series of commands to save time. But placing a personality on a computer is not possible. There are too many variables involved. When it comes time to talk about selling your home, business, or investment, I have to know as much about you as I do about the property. That requires a face to face meeting. Call me old fashion, but that is the way I prefer to do business. And I am sticking to that.

What the future holds. It doesn’t seem to make any sense at all. Those who claim to be top agents will flock to new technology like moths drawn to a flame. They are willing to pay set up fees and monthly subscriptions in an attempt to stay ahead of the game. New programs promise to make time for agents who choose to use them. Time for what? More time to work on and close more deals, and make more money. But at what cost? The cost of a reputation? I’m not sure at this point. I have no inclination of trying any of those computer robots. I have seen them at work. I’ve looked into their history and how they have been developed. That is not a pretty picture.

NetworkWe are all aware how Internet scams are at record levels. Why? Scammers have turned to computer robots to conduct their dirty deeds at a record pace. A computer robot can communicate with hundreds of victims in a few seconds. How do they work? You can look up articles on computer robots to get an idea of how they work. Computer robots can read an email. The computer robot uses the latest technology to decipher words and sentence structure. Then the program formulates a response. In the scam industry the programming is rather simple because the program focuses on a single subject and a desired result. Based on the input received from the email the robot reads, the program chooses from a series of responses to do one of two things, gather personal information, or keep the fish on the hook by making promises.

How do you know if you are communicating with a real person or a robot? That may be rather difficult to determine based on the fact, the real person is hiding behind a computer. Can you trick the computer robot? I’ve never tried it. I have dabbled with a few computer robot scams. My email address is broadcast all over the world. Therefore I receive emails from just about every scam artist in the world. Don’t worry, I am extra careful, never open an attachment on an email unless I know the person who sent it, and I use a Linux system. Most viruses are programmed to infect Windows computers. Very few are equipped to infect Apple computers, and almost none are designed to hack into a Linux computer. Linux uses a different programming language and are password protected. It may take me longer to add programs to my computer, but that is well worth the time when I look at the protection and peace of mind that brings.

Computer robots are designed to deliver a sales pitch via a form letter. Answer that email and the robot analyzes your message and customizes a predetermined response. The robot will include just enough information to make you think the email was read, and throw you off guard. But the robot has no choice but to set the course and control the conversation by introducing the next phase of the scam. So you will see some rather off topic information if you are smart enough not to reply with direct questions regarding the email sent to you. Ask questions like, what city are you from? What appeals to you in that city? How tall are you? What is your favorite color? Ask personal questions. Try mixing up your sentence structure. Write something along the lines of, “how if going near to the flag of Antarctica, when sentencing occurs, then if that or this, blue turns to red and black to white.” If you structure a response with incoherent sentences, the robot will look at only the key words to structure its response. A normal human will answer one way. A robot will answer in a predictable fashion based on a few key words. You can out smart robots. At least that is true for the time being. Some programs give computers the ability to learn to a certain degree. And of course programmers are always finding ways to update their programs. Especially when they can sell those programs. So be careful out there and no matter what the business is, you are always better off dealing with a real person.