With the smell of cat urine penetrating the air, graffiti covering the walls and a world-worn homeowner looking on, Tamera Aragon peered around the home that would become her very first real estate deal.
The deteriorating structure stood juxtaposed as both symbol of heartbreak and hope, the owner desperately wanting out as much as she wanted in.
He pressed the keys to the house inside her palm, along with the key to a broken down car that sat in the driveway, and walked away from the home for the very last time.
Before her stood a wonderful opportunity, a challenge after trials, testing and tribulation. Hard to believe this home would become a springboard for her to rise higher than before while helping people in need all at the same time.
For seller and buyer alike, this was a second chance.
Climbing Out of the Pit
Before Tamera Aragon claimed her stake in real estate, closing on more than 300 properties, she was a businesswoman challenged by setback. In addition to emerging from a serious car accident in 2002, she was sent into a tailspin when the multi-million dollar company she built at just the age of 20 suddenly shuttered over a decade later.
From the outside looking in, it may have appeared that all was lost. And then, divinity struck at a sundries shop before she was scheduled to board a flight.
“A book on the shelf jumped out at me,” she said, in an exclusive interview with Deals & Dollars Weekly. “It was called Multiple Streams of Income, and I was like, ‘Wow, this is it. There are so many different opportunities.’ This is what I needed to do.”
The need to diversity revealed itself to Aragon, as did the value of mentorship. In spite of building a business in her 20s with nobody holding her hand, this time had to be different, she said.
When Aragon learned the author of the book would host a workshop in a town more than six hours away, she was determined to move heaven and earth to ensure she was in a seat when the first of 15 speakers took the stage.
“I am sitting here, sort of on my last leg financially, but I decided to jump in with both feet with what I had with my credit card, and I did it,” Aragon said.
Thousands of dollars later, Aragon said she was grateful for the guidance and began knocking on doors in an effort to save homeowners from foreclosure.
But, she also observed how like many other people, she still felt a tinge of uncertainty about whether her investment in her training would really pay off. Even if she was taught how to find deals, how to fund her real estate transactions, there was still something missing.
And hence, the seeds were planted for what would become a thriving training business down the road.
To The Letter
Four weeks before Aragon closed on her first deal, she sent out a letter to the homeowner asking if he was interested in buying the house. The fact is he was interested, she was just a month early.
“He liked my letter, he said,” Aragon recalls. “It had a Bible verse on the bottom, and he said he had stared at it and it helped him through, that he was ready to do it—and do it now.”
With contract in hand, Aragon met the homeowner and in less time than she ever imagined, she was able to take the contract to the title company to get the home with literally no money down—her very first mistake, she concedes.
“You always want to put something down on a house,” she laughs. “Even if it is just a penny.”
Yet, in spite of some rookie errors, she still walked away with $80,000 in her pocket, and the drive to close more real estate deals.
As Aragon mounted more successes and built momentum, she also began reaching out—“from the heart,” she said—to help others like her who wanted to build their own businesses.
“I put myself it precarious situations with these deals, and I had to learn the hard way sometimes,” Aragon said. “It take a long time and money to teach that to other people, so I decided to start putting my tools online, and offering them for a fee.”
Priorities and Personal Touches
Today, Tamara Aragon puts great emphasis on meeting the demands of her training clients, closing more real estate deals every day, and balancing time with her 17-year-old daughter as she prepares to head for college.
“I have a real office, but I generally don’t like going there,” Aragon said, with a laugh.
In lieu of office visits, she prefers to work from home via Skype after an hour of work out, meditation and prayer.
“All day long, I have a stack of 20 pending properties I am looking at, so I am dealing with offers, title companies, and negotiations,” Aragon said. “The good news is though it’s a lot, I have some flexibility.”
“Things get done, whether I delegate them or not.”
Aragon said she is a “pretty organized person,” and credits task lists for the steady flow of business through her digital doorway. Her recommendations for staying efficient:
– Google Tasks: “I use Gmail for my email. If you send me an email, all I have to do is click “Add to Task,” and it goes to that task list. I go through the task list, and move things around based on what I want to accomplish. I organize it at the end of each day, and reevaluate it again in the morning.”
– BizPad: Aragon said she uses this app to add deadlines to task, and to delegate work to her staff. She also said it is a great way to collect and add feedback to each task to keep everyone on the same page.
– Skype: “Skype is a really big tool for me,” Aragon said, who uses the video chat and IM client to keep connected with clients and staff alike anywhere in the world. Just add laptop and Internet access.
Find Authenticity in Your Marketing
An important part of any business are the marketing vehicles owners use to attract new clients or customers, Aragon said, and there is no one-size-fits-all strategy.
“You have to be authentic,” she said, “and you have to do that follow through.”
While a direct mail piece might work for some businesses, social media may be better for others. Aragon said the ability to connect with others through web ads has meant a bounty for her business.
Meanwhile, she uses direct mail directed at people in foreclosure or in probate, and follows up via telephone to ensure people have received the letter and to offer help.
“A little bit of putting it out there, and a little personal touch combined works for me,” she said.
The Message Behind the Madness
As with any business, real estate is an ever changing and evolving industry. Versatility, Aragon said, is key for those who want to succeed.
Aragon said she saw incredible profits when she entered the market in 2002, well before the Great Recession. But, when she suddenly found herself in the city with the second largest number of foreclosures in the U.S., she had to change course.
“I was unable to resell what I bought during that time, but I was able to get some great deals on properties,” she said. “When people were running, I was about to get some great deals on properties.”
For the beat-up investor or entrepreneur, Aragon cautions that stagnation or a slump in business can be a message to change gears.
“If something is happening that feels bad, it doesn’t mean it is bad,” she said. “Honor that feeling, but you have to look at it as a message to change your business.”
Consider the following questions when your business is slow, she said:
– Do you have a product that people want? If not, it might be time to shut the doors or do something different with your business.
– Are you targeting the right customer?
– Is this business something that you want? Does it drive you to succeed every day?
Aragon said using Google AdWords Keyword Planner is an excellent way to not only search keywords for your website’s SEO (search engine optimization), but also to measure the types of products people are searching for online.
“You want to really make sure what you are offering is what people want,” Aragon said.
Serve a Need Greater Than Yourself
Finally, Aragon said giving is the path to receiving, and she practices this through various philanthropic projects and charitable organizations.
In addition to working with Compassion International to provide for the needs of children in developing nations, she also created a craft table with her daughter which serves the children of soup kitchen clients in their community.
She also launched a non-profit for abused women which has raised more than $100,000 since its inception.
“It’s been such an honor to serve people who aren’t given that attention, to talk to them and hear their story.”
Learn how to get started in the real estate business with 30-days of free training by Tamera Aragon at www.REIPosse.com.
Also, don’t miss the opportunity to collect $500-$1,000 for every single real estate deal you can send Tamera. Details at: www.locatergold.com/open.
Read more about Tamera, and download her free due diligence checklist here.