Negotiation, Negotiation, Negotiation

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Archive for the ‘Property training’ Category

Free is the new black

Posted by Mark Harrison on February 26, 2008

This month’s Wired Magazine has a great article about why the new pricepoint for many things is free.

The article is written by Chris Anderson, whose last book – the Long Tail – I read a couple of years ago. The book  has heavily influenced my training business.

The thrust of the article is that, as the costs of production go down, the price to the customer should go down…

… therefore businesses need to continually innovate to work out how to deliver more value to the customer (that can be charged for) as what they used to charge for becomes free.

In many (most?) cases, the thing that’s forcing the prices down is competition, legitimate or otherwise.

When it took several hundred thousand pounds to set up a CD-mastering facility, not many people could produce them. Not only was there little piracy, but there weren’t many CDs out there – if you wanted a CD of, say, the Durufle Requiem, then Hyperion had about the only one … now there are numerous recordings of that piece on CD, from major choirs through to schools and churches. (And I pick an example from relatively obscure classical music deliberately – this choice extends in many dimensions.)

In my own training industry, we’ve seen this move – sales of CDs are holding up OK, but hardly booming, and sales of my book are doing OK, but generating less cash than I would have earnt in six months of IT contracting (which is pretty much how long it took to work on the book.)

Where it has worked, though, is that I have more clients asking me to work with them in negotiations (interestingly, in IT as well as property!) because of the “exposure” that the book has generated…

… and it certainly has helped establish credibility with my mentoring programme clients.

Does it apply to property investment though? Well, maybe, actually… One startup I’m involved with got free office space from their accountant in exchange for getting a 2-year commitment on accountancy work!

The next step, to offer people free housing in exchange for a certain amount of work is something I KNOW that that smart investors are looking at.


Posted in Economics, Negotiation Book, Property Investment, Property training | 2 Comments »

Home Information Packs – Update

Posted by Mark Harrison on November 23, 2007

Since my post on Monday explaining HIPs, there has been an update.

Housing Minister, Yvette Cooper, has just announced that they will be extended to 1- and 2- bedroom properties put on the market after 14th December.

As you might imagine, the Association of Home Information Pack Providers (AHIPP) has welcomed the news.

On balance, so do I.

Posted in Property Investment, Property training | 1 Comment »

Property Negotiation, The Book – now available from WHSmith!

Posted by Mark Harrison on November 19, 2007

Ooh, well done, my publisher…

Available on-line from WHSmith here, or in-store (probably by order only at most branches.)

It’s quite an odd feeling – I’d not been expecting it to be available anywhere other than Amazon, so pretty chuffed today 🙂

Now, if a few hundred thousand of you would go and buy it, and make it a breakaway Christmas Number 1, and I get invited onto Jonathan Ross, I promise I’ll make the tickets to the show available on my website 🙂

Posted in Property Investment, Property Negotiation, Property Negotiation Book, Property training | Leave a Comment »

Home Information Packs (HIPs) explained

Posted by Mark Harrison on November 19, 2007

Home Information Packs are with us, at least as far as larger houses marketed through estate agents are concerned.

You need to provide a HIP if:

  • You are MARKETING a property AND
  • That property is in England or Wales AND
  • That property has three or more bedrooms

The intention is that, once enough inspectors are recruited, they will be rolled out to all properties, presumably with two-bed places next. The government are saying that they will need about 3,000 inspectors total, but as well as the absolute number, will need to make sure that they are spread evenly across England and Wales.

[UPDATE: Since this article was written, they have been rolled out to ALL PROPERTIES]

The key word is MARKETING. A HIP is required if a property is advertised. This is, for most sellers, through an estate agent, but does not have to be. Under the terms of the Act, even a FOR SALE sign in the window is enough to require a HIP.

What this means, of course, is that, from a sellers perspective, if they are responding to a WE WANT YOUR PROPERTY flyer or ad, then it could be argued that they are not marketing their property. So a HIP is not required. For someone on the verge of bankrupcty, this could be another good reason driving them away from Estate Agents, into the hands of direct buyers. So those of us who use direct sourcing techniques are finding that the playing field is being tilted in our favour by this legislation!

So in fact, for the investor, they are more of an issue when (if) we sell than when we buy.

The Packs are somewhat watered down compared to the original proposals. They MUST contain:

  • An Energy Performance Certificate
  • A sale statement
  • Standard searches
  • Evidence of Title
  • For leasehold properties, lease-related information
  • An Index showing what’s included and what’s being looked for!

To take those one by one:

1: Energy Performance Certificate:

If you have bought a new appliance recently, you will have seen something similar. A little graph with A in Green at the top, down to G in red at the bottom, with the As using less energy.

The HIP versions are a little more sophisticated – they have two scales, one for energy efficiency (which tells you how much the house / flat will cost to run), and one for enivornmental impact.

In addition, each scale has two entries – one for the property as it is now, and one for what the property could be if it were

Whether people will actually be put off buying properties because of their energy efficiency has yet to be seen. The Government are, obviously, hoping that make the information so in-your-face will encourage people to make improvements now.

Of course, it is not clear whether it will actually be possible to make these improvements, since one of the suggested improvements on the Government website is covering 25 per cent of the roof with solar panels… which may require approval… which may not be forthcoming in some areas, but heh!

2: A sale statement

This is a fairly basic document, showing the address, whether it free- lease- or common-hold, whether it is registered or
unregistered (anything sold in the last few years will have been registered, but this only became mandatory in the last ten years), whether the property will be sold with vacant possession, and who is selling it.

3: Standard Searches

These must include the charges certificate from the Local Authority, as well as any other records like planning decisions or road-building schemes that the Local Authority provides.

This part of the HIP must also include information (in a particular format) about who provides drainage and water to the property. The local water company (or both, if, like me, you have a different company responsible for your water and your drains) can provide this.

4: Evidence of Title

Where a property is registered with the Land Registry, this must be the most recent copies of the Property Register, the Propietorship Regsiter, the Charges Register (if there is one), and an official copy of the title plan. The Land Registry can supply all this.

Where the property is not registered, then other documents will need to be provided, including a Certificate of Official Search from the Land Registry.

5: The Index

…. which is, fairly obviously, an Index of what is included.

If any of the required documents are missing, the Index has to give a reason why, and show what steps are being taken to find them.

Optional Documents

In addition to the compulsory documents above, there are some optional ones, including the much-discussed Home Condition Report.

The HCR is the piece that was going to be mandatory, and basically amounted to a structural survey. As you might imagine, this was not going to be cheap, and only made sense if you could then assume that mortgage companies would accept it, and not require a separate survey of their own. A huge number of mortgage companies made it clear that they were not prepared to do this, and would still require a survey from a valuer on THEIR panel… and hence, summer last year, there was quite a change to the HIP regulations.

Considering that the HCRs were the biggest part of the HIPs, this led to all kinds of HIP Replacement puns, which you can work through for yourselves.

Other optional documents included things like lists of which contents would be included, details of rights of way, flood risk documents, mining risk documents, and so on.

In fact, all the documents that mortgage lenders insist on anyway.

Overall, the HIPs felt like a good idea – the original point was to protect potential buyers in three ways:

  1. By making sure that they did not get any nasty surprises AFTER they had agreed, and once the BUYERS had started spending money.
  2. By stopping people joke-marketing their properties, with no real intention of selling, and wasting everyones time.
  3. By meaning that the key documents only had to be paid for once, by the seller, rather than potentially several times by competing buyers.

Looking back on them now, they feel like a relatively pragmatic set of documents. I remain to be convinced that the Government mandating the format of some documents is inherently better than getting the industry professionals to, but that is a relatively minor point.

Overall, though, the key point is still about MARKETING properties.

If a vendor is responding directly to you, and that vendor cannot afford a HIP themselves, then this is another benefit you can offer them.

However, I cannot help but feel that some investors will use this as a tool to exploit the most disadvantaged sellers into accepting even less. Such appears to be the way of well-meaning legislation.

Posted in Property Investment, Property training | 5 Comments »

New dates for Property Negotiation 1-day training course

Posted by Mark Harrison on August 2, 2007

Two new dates for the course have been announced:

  • 6th October 2007
  • 24th November 2007

Both courses are at Gatwick. Click here to book.

Here’s what some past attendees have said about the course:

Picture of Abz
One of the most useful one day seminars I have ever been to. Mark's sincere, simple, humorous and down to earth approach really helped me in thinking about every negotiation opportunity that we come across every day. It's actually embarassing for me to admit how much I have saved by applying these simple techniques where ever I can including in real estate negotiation... Probably thousands
- Abhishek Mani, Property Investor, London

Picture of Parmdeep 'Deep' Vadesha
I have been involved with property for about four years full time, and have known Mark Harrison for two years. I would say the Negotiation tactics like that heard today are better than the books I have read or American course tapes I have listened to simply because he's experienced the pitfalls and it's all based on real experience, is specific to the UK Property market, which is the most important thing which I haven't seen elsewhere, a great course and I definitely recommend it.

- Parmdeep Vadesha, Property Investor & Author, Vadesha Properties, Leicester -

Posted in Negotiation, Property Negotiation, Property training, Training course | 1 Comment »

2007 dates announced for “Property Negotiation” training course

Posted by Mark Harrison on December 15, 2006

The dates are as follows:

  • Saturday 20th January
  • Saturday  3rd March
  • Saturday 28th April
  • Saturday 16th June

See for more details, and for the free mini-course.

Posted in Negotiation, Property Negotiation, Property training, Training course | Leave a Comment »

Course Review – Invest in the States (Ayshe Kadir)

Posted by Mark Harrison on October 31, 2006

Should I invest overseas?

This has to rank as one of the most common questions that I am asked. Now, I have made no secret of the fact that all my portfolio is within an hour drive of where I live (and most of it within 15 minutes.)

However, given I was asked the question so much, I thought that I should get up to speed on some of the most popular overseas
investment locations, Cyprus and the USA.

In June, I went on the Invest In The States course run by Ayshe Kadir.

The reason that I chose Ayshe and her course is that she is first and foremost a property investor (who happens to enjoy training people.) I have a concern about courses run by people without any real expeirience, or good presenters who present material written by others. In this case, no problems – Ayshe has been a landlord in the UK for many years, and has been investing in the States for several years. Everything she teaches is based on her own experience, not just a re-hash of a book.

As we all know, it IS possible to source properties below market value in the UK, by concentrating on finding people who value a sale quickly more than they value the best possible price. However, as we also know in the UK, it can be time-consuming to find these people.

In the USA, however, the information about people who are behind on their mortgages and therefore facing repossession is regarded not as private, but as public information. This does not mean that it is free, but there are places where it can be bought very cost-effectively.

This difference, and this alone, makes a huge difference to the investor. Anyone going into the course with a UK-leafletting mindset will be pleasently surprised at how that step can be bypassed.

Ayshe teaches not only how to find this information, but how then to make use of it and convert those leads into sales. While some of the techniques she uses are similar to those that I teach in my negotiation course, and others are similar to those that Parmdeep Vadesha and Glenn Armstrong teach on their BMV courses, there are others that are peculiar to UK people investing in the US.

The course is both detailed and interactive – rather than using a pre-canned set of Powerpoints, Ayshe looked at a live lead she had just receive by email, then went through the process of getting more information, obtaining comparable pricing, and preparing for the initial contact.

Rather than having a live conversation with a vendor in the course, though, she played a pre-recorded conversation with one from whom she had bought a property the previous month. This added to the atmosphere (though with a thick southern drawl, was hard to follow at times when played back to the room.)

The material for the one-day course I attended was on finding and negotiating with pre-foreclosure vendors in the States. Ayshe also runs other courses on Tax Liens, Tax Deeds, and Deed Trading.

In addition to the course itself, Ayshe includes a very comprehensive manual which not only reviews the principles and practices she teaches, but also gives in-detail assessments of many different areas within the States from an investor’s perspective.

I started out somewhat sceptical about the concept of investing in the States, and after the day am very much more positive. I have not (yet) bought there, but feel rather more confident about my ability to do so now.

I also persuaded Ayshe to give me a quick interview, which I recorded and is now available here.

So, the key question – do I recommend the course?

Only to certain people:

  • If you are committed to investing in the States, then this is the best resource I have yet come across, and I would recommend it without hesitation.
  • If you are considering investing in the States, then I would recommend you go to one of the preview Seminars that Ayshe runs. These cost about ten pounds each, and will give you about an hour basic training, followed by some more nformation about the course.

To get more details of the course, or the preview seminars, look at Ayshe’s site

Declaration: I receive a small commission if you go on the full course as a result of following the link above! I do not receive anything if you go on the preview seminar and decide that the course is not for you.

Posted in Below Market Value, BMV, Property Investment, Property training, Training course | 19 Comments »

Course review – Glenn Armstrong

Posted by Mark Harrison on October 31, 2006

If you have been to any Property Networking events recently, then you may have come across Glenn Armstrong.

Glenn’s background is as a businessman and entrepeneur – in which he’s been very succesful. However, a few years ago, he turned to property, and applied his skills and drive to build a huge portfolio very quickly. (Over 60 properties in 2 years.)
The secret to his success was his use of creative Below Market Value techniques – ways of identifying vendors who value things other than the highest headline price, and then coming up with creative solutions to give them what they want or need.

I’ve used BMV techniques myself (and written about them on the free newsletter), however, Glenn has done a lot of work putting together a one day training course based around his own experience of what has worked, and what hasn’t. I went along to the course a couple of months ago.

Glenn is based in Milton Keynes, and the course I attended was based there, so relatively good transport links. The “amenity factors” were well done – a good hotel, big enough training room (for about 25 attendees) and good quality food and drinks both in the morning and at lunch.

However, it’s the content that drives people to training courses, not the food – and this is where Glenn excels.

Some property training is presented by “salesmen” who are great at standing up in front of the room, but have no real experience of the material, so aren’t always that hot when it comes to questions. Glenn is presenting HIS material, based on HIS experience, and the depth of knowledge shows.

There have been some criticisms (not from me) that buying BMV only works “if you take advantage of people”. Glenn clearly demonstrates on the course that the only way to complete deals is to concentrate on helping people. Whether that means driving to court with them, or paying their legal bills, or negotiating with credit card companies on their behalf.

At £500 the course isn’t cheap, but compared to some (US) courses that sell at 10-40 times that amount, it looks reasonable.

Likewise, if you end up learning a technique that will shave an extra £10,000 off your next purchase, then £500 feels a tiny amount to spend.

Of course, going on the course won’t make you succesful in buying BMV (any more than going on my course will make you a good negotiator.) The only thing that will do that is practice – but if you’re serious about moving into property investment, and are prepared to treat it as a business rather than as a hobby, then investing a day of your life in finding out WHAT you need to do makes sense.

Posted in Below Market Value, BMV, Property Investment, Property training, Training course | 6 Comments »