Every week, we ask a real estate professional for their thoughts on the top three stories from the week before. This week, we spoke with Mitch Stephen, author of the new book My Life & 1,000 Houses: 200+ Ways to Find Bargain Properties, who offers extensive coaching opportunities for professionals hoping to succeed in real estate.
Boston Agent (BA): Obviously you place a big emphasis on continuing education in your first book, “Falling Forward to Financial Freedom.” What are some of the best ways you’ve found to learn the business? Do you recommend continuing education courses or less official means?
Mitch Stephens (MS): When the formal education process ends (whether that’s high school or college or beyond) people have a tendency to abandon education entirely. It took me a while to convince myself of the importance of continuing my own education, and once I did I never looked back. In terms of what’s available, I think the best resource a person wanting to build their real estate knowledge has is the Internet, where there is so much free information. The trick is to use the Internet as a funnel. Start with a wide scope and slowly narrow your way down until you find a niche in the industry you can get on board with and turn into your specialty.
But the Internet doesn’t have all the options, you need the human aspect of the equation, which is why I suggest later hiring someone who’s proven themselves in your particular specialty. You want to learn from someone who’s already shown a penchant for that part of the business.
BA: A recent analysis of Texas’ housing market found that prices are 11 percent overvalued. Do you agree with this assessment, why or why not?
MS: I’m a free market kind of guy. If someone is willing to pay for it, how can it be overpriced? It’s a quandary I’ve never been able to settle. Now, if lending standards revert back to pre-crisis norms, where people could get financing with little to no credit, then yeah, overpricing would be a problem. But today’s standards are much tighter, and lenders are much more cautious.
BA: What inspired you to write your book, and what do you ultimately hope people will take from it?
MS: My first book, I wasn’t sure why I wrote it for the longest time. I didn’t plan to write a book; I didn’t want to write a book; I’m not really a book writing type of guy. But I went through a tragedy, and I’ve since learned it’s a natural phenomenon for a person to want to categorize their life in the wake of that tragedy. That was my first book.
But after the first book came out, and I got a little recognition, people started asking me, over and over, how I found all these great deals on houses. After a few dozen people asked me, I started writing down all the ways I had discovered to find cheap properties and eventually that spun into my newest book, “200+ Ways to Find Bargain Properties.”