Don’t be a Real Estate Flake

Don’t pull these three common real estate investing faux pas

Mark’s ad on Angie’s List got my attention right away! To tell this story properly, I need to backtrack a few weeks to my search for a painter to give the main floor of my rental property a fresh coat of paint. As a real estate investor I knew how much painting should cost for the main hallway, kitchen, and two main rooms (living room and dining room) of this house. So I started my search thinking I would just hire the painter with the lowest price. What else could I expect? Painters can be flakes—booking jobs and just not showing up, dragging the job on for weeks, and even disappearing before a job is finished (trust me; I had a painter who was incarcerated during a job and couldn’t finish due to obvious reasons). Bottom line: I didn’t have much hope for a reliable painter. However, I was drawn to Mark’s ad in particular because it promised that if the client provided the paint, he would show up on time, every day with his own tools and finish the job. The last line of the ad read: “I will not flake out on any job”.

You better bet I called Mark and booked him right away to come and start painting the following day. And to my utter amazement he did just what he claimed in his ad—he showed up on time, every day, brought all of his own brushes and tools, and finished the job in record time. Now you might call me a pessimist and say that my doubt of Mark and painters in general is uncalled for. However, I would argue that as far as services go, we are often more surprised when someone does exactly what he or she promises then when they don’t. As a person involved in real estate investing, I will honestly admit that real estate investors are just as guilty of flaking out as any service industry, commonly making the following 3 promises and commonly letting buyers, sellers, renters, and lenders down.

The most common real estate investing faux pas include:

1. Showing up late—or not at all

As a person serving customers in any industry it’s common sense that if you schedule an appointment, it’s imperative to show up on time. However, many real estate investors show up late or not at all leaving their clients or renters hanging without an explanation. We’re all busy people, but I know my livelihood depends on my reputation as an honest, reliable property owner, so when I book a meeting, I confirm the day prior, I show up 5 to 10 minutes early, and I always follow up with a thank you email. Being tardy, or worse, not at all, tells the client that you don’t value their time or their business.

2. Forgetting clients

I can’t remember every client off the top of my head, but a few weeks ago I was rather insulted when I called a lender that I’ve used for more than one property investment deal and he had no idea who I was. This is why I make a point of keeping record of past clients (and even those I’ve worked with, but never sold a property to) in my electronic rolodex. It didn’t take much effort to create this client database of buyers, sellers, renters, lawyers, real estate agents, colleagues, and lenders. I simply add them as I meet them. However, when I get a call or email from a past client, I consult my trusty rolodex for their name, contact information, and a few personal notes (i.e., job, title, spouse’s name, and kids’ names, past deal). Clients really appreciate this little bit of effort on my part to show them I value their business.

3. Not returning calls or emails when you say you will

We’ve all forgotten to call or email someone back after we say we will. However, I can honestly say I’ve never done that in business—only in my personal life. I make it a priority to return all calls and emails when I say I will within the next 24 hours. And as a client myself, if a lawyer, investor, or business contact doesn’t return my calls or emails within 24-hours, I make it a rule of thumb to no longer work with them.


  1. Joseph Lee says

    I’ve discovered that Realtors tend to be flakes who likely couldn’t hold a job as painter. Seriously, the only Realtor I’ve encountered in 20 years as a flipper who was at all reliable was a woman in a sparsely populated mid-western farming community with a declining population. She worked hard and made a very good living in a market that in the best of times would be described as an abysmal wasteland. She sold a house for me in less than one month, well above market value, at the lowest point of the housing crash, in that remote farming community with no jobs and a declining population.

    Yet in major cities with growing populations, Realtors who can’t return calls or bother to show up for appointments are the same who constantly complain they can’t make a living.

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