Real Estate Agent Podcast 42: Nick Prefontaine
I always start before I know how to do it, because by starting you can always get better.
About This Episode
At the age of 14, Nick was in a horrible snowboarding accident and left in a three-week long coma. Ignoring doctors telling him that he would never eat, talk, or walk on his own again, he was able to make a full recovery and began working in real estate.
This episode features how to get started as an agent, alternative ways to approach the industry, and why now is the best time to get rolling.
Learn more about Nick at smartrealestatecoach.com, and get a free book by going to newrulesforfree.com.
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JON: Hello and welcome to Shop Talk: The Real Estate Show. I’m Jon Forisha and joining me on this episode is Nick Prefontaine, partner and coach at Smart Real Estate Coach.
JON: So thanks Nick for joining me.
NICK: I'm happy to be here maybe to talk to someone during this, this craziness that's going on
JON: Sick of being a quarantined in your own house?
JON: All right Nick, well, can you tell us just a little bit about your background?
NICK: Sure. Um, I really like to, I always like to start when I was younger and the experience that I had, I gotten twist her morning accident. Uh, the day was ski club. I was 14 years old and of course excited to go to ski club on the way to the mountain. We, my friends and I brought our stuff on the bus, our snow morning gear, like, you know, everything we needed snow pants and goggles and code and everything. We brought that on the bus to get ready, so as not to miss a precious moment once we got to the mountain. So that enabled us to get a couple more runs in that. Well, we are always looking for that edge. Um, as I'm sure you can appreciate, you know, in Denver. Um, so we got, we got some mountain and because we already, we headed straight for the top.
NICK: Now on the weights of the top we noticed that it was very icy because it had been raining. People are wiping out everywhere. Oh. But needless to say, we got to the top and I buckled in and all my friends are talking about all, you'd be crazy to hit that jump. And it was, it was a big job at the time and it was really icy. And of course I took that like I like I took anything at that age and still really, I take things whenever people try to remember people slight me or, or talk a little, not even negatively, but underestimate my abilities. I was taken as a challenge. So I headed for the jump. That jump there was the biggest jump with all my speed and then going, going up to a job that was a tabletop. I caught the edge of my snowboard and that kind of threw me off balance and it was too close to the top to stop Jon. So I had to go off the jump and I was off balance. So I landed right on my head and I was later told that I wasn't wearing a helmet and I did land on my head that I wasn't wearing a helmet and I was in a coma for three weeks.
NICK: And um, I, they actually tried to life flight me, but it was too windy so they couldn't, you know, they couldn't life flight me. They said just on the impact alone, I would have been out for about seven to 10 days, but they had to seduce me just because they said if I woke up and I panicked and I was freaked out what had happened, I already had swelling in my brain, so that would have increased and then it woulda died. So they had to, they had to sedate me a little bit. And that's what led to the coma, being in the coma for three weeks. When I was in the coma, the doctors told my parents that even if he makes it out, he's probably not going to walk, talk, or eat on his own again. So as you can imagine, that was, well that was a hard pill for them to swallow at the time. Hearing that news but whenever the doctors would share the grim news more and more. And it wasn't at the beginning, especially at the beginning. It wasn't more and more positive. Of course it was just getting worse and worse and worse. Every time they sh the doctor came and share news, my parents would always say, would always stop them. Right. Their doctors right before they shared information. Said no no no, not in front of him, even though I was in a coma because they understood the power of, even though I was in a coma, I was still taking in information, do the unconscious mind, you know, the subconscious mind. So they always ask the doctor to leave, to go outside the room to share that news with them. And I think that was, that was probably a, a huge benefit, not probably, I'm sure that was a, that was a benefit in my recovery. Um, then after about a month, I was, after I was stabilized, I was transported to Franciscan Children's Hospital in Brighton and that's where I learned how to walk, talk and eat again, all right there.
NICK: And it was a little under, it felt like two years. I'm of course going through that, but that I was, excuse me, I was there for a little under two months. Um, it felt a lot longer than that when I was going through it, of course. But that's where I, I had a physical, occupational and speech therapy had double sessions, so I would have, there were long days, I would have physical, occupational and speech therapy in the morning and I would have lunch, then I would have physical, occupational and speech serving yet the new, and so they were, there were long days for me going through that. And then I just, just looking back on it, Jon, I'm just, I don't know, it's kinda crazy to me that it was only that it was only two years, not necessarily like my accident, just like when that happened, I just, I dealt with it. I just did the best I could every day I got up, I took that next step forward. I did the best I could every day and I was able to recover.
NICK: But it's amazing me looking back on that two years, only two years after that I was, I got my start in real estate and that was, I had actually gotten interested in real estate and I grew up around it. My parents were always doing things like fix and flip projects and raise the roof projects on ranches. And my dad was a builder and an investor, um, and a REALTOR®. So I always was around real estate, but I, I first got interested in it around 15 or 16 and I asked my dad like how I could, how he could get started, how I could help out. And he, yeah, actually at the time was '05 or '06, they were just starting like a new venture of door knocking on a pre foreclosure doors or homeowners that ever see the notice of default letter from the bank, meaning they admit one too three, even upwards of 10 to 12 payments in the bank, still hadn't foreclosed on the house, so I would go and knock on their door and try to get them to work with us.
NICK: I would present, present our solution to them. We're doing things a little differently than we're doing now, but, um, I would tell them certain ways that we could help them out of their unfortunate situation. And that led to getting several properties under contract. I did that while I was in high school. 16, 17, 18. And then, uh, after I graduated I started starting to get my real estate license and I was a REALTOR® full time for six years, uh, during, during a great market. Um, I got my license in March of '08. Oh, nice. Great timing. So the only, the only thing I knew Jon was, um, was that market people sell at the time, always saw a wall wall at the peak, you know, in '06O. That didn't mean anything to me because all I knew was posts, you know, 2008, 2009 that, so I didn't, I didn't know a good market. So I think that was almost a benefit for me.
NICK: Then around 2000, I would say it was around 2014, 2015 my dad asked me if I wanted to help out on the marketing of this properties because he was, he was getting a lot of properties under contract. He needed help with the marketing of those properties. So I was even hesitant at the time, even out motto like, no, no, I got my own thing going on. You know, I'm doing, I'm doing well and I don't, you know, I don't want to confuse the two. And then thankfully he stayed on me. He asked me more than once. Um, because it led to what I'm doing today, which is the marketing led to working with all the buyers. For the properties that he got in. Then that, that led to developing the process, the buyer process, a system that we're taking the buyers to from first call all the way to, uh, signing and funding with the attorney. And that entire process enables us and enables our associates out there to maximize the profit on every single deal and basically to squeeze every little bit out that you can. And there's a number of different ways that we do that. And I work hand in hand with our associates to do that to this day. Wow. That was pretty long winded.
JON: That's quite a story. That's crazy. Wow. Um, so I mean, you, you sort of alluded to it, but what do you feel like you've learned after you recovered from your accident?
NICK: Okay. Mmm. I mean, I learned the significance of the importance of every day. Mmm. And really that, you know, you just, you're only guaranteed what you have today. And to just do the best you can with what you have.
NICK: See this comes out differently on 'em and I wish I was on an interview last week. It comes out differently every single, and I actually enjoy it that way, but sharing my accident and it comes out differently in every single interview is different and I don't necessarily, I like that because I don't necessarily like to stick to a script and be a robot. I liked, I liked that at different parts of the story come out in every single interview. It's, it's always a little different. But the premise of the story is always the same. I'm here today. I got in the accident. I'm here today, so,
JON: Oh, so what do you say to agents faced with adversity? I mean I feel like this puts you in a unique spot of, I mean you had a crazy obstacle in front of you and you overcame it.
NICK: I would say I would say just do, do what I do, what I was just alluding to, which is just do the best you can with, with what you have today. Now when I was first starting out as an agent in 2008 or 2009 when I, when I got my real license, I was, I again, like I was saying, I didn't know any better. So I was starting out by just cold calling, you know, doing just listed calls or just sold calls around properties that had sold. Not even necessarily my listening or a whole set I sold to a buyer, but that's just how I started. So I dunno, that's, that's the path that I saw at the time to get business and that's what I made work. So I would say with the advent of technology and there's so many tools and resources out there right now, just don't get, and this is still something that I get, I'll tend to get lost in technology or like systems and you've got to do this and you've got to do that.
NICK: I was commenting to my dad last week. It was actually, it might've been a couple of weeks ago, John, but I was commenting to him that I love just prospecting. I love just cold calling because it's so simple. You just have a list of names and numbers you call them to see if you can help them. That's it. There's no tools. There's no systems. There's no, there's no, you gotta do this. And when you're here, you got to do that and then you got to jump on one foot when you're on this website and then it's just, you can't get confused by, okay, there's a name, there's a number. Yeah. You got the phone, dial and call and see if you can help them.
JON: Well, it's just, it's, I mean, it's just human contact, right? One person talking to one person. Yeah. So there's a lot of agents, especially early in their careers who are freaked out by that, you know, cold calling or doing what you did at 16 just knocking on doors. Uh, what would you say to them?
NICK: Start. Just do it. Just start. Because when, when I, at 16 when I was door knocking pre-foreclosure doors or on default doors, I didn't, I mean, I had a little tutorial like I had. Okay, this is a script that you're supposed to use. I practice and rehearse it a few times. Thought I had it down cold and then I went out there and just started. I thought I knew enough and I started, I knocked on those few, the um, I would have about a month worth of doing doors. And when I say a month worth, I mean I had to go to school during the week. So I mean, I mean on the weekends I would, I would go out, I would go out on like a Saturday or a Sunday and I would do, at the beginning it wasn't a lot of doors, but I would do like, I dunno, 20 to 30.
NICK: And at the beginning I just, I just had a script. I had no one to model, no one to follow to me to help me get better. I just, I just had a script so I had a script, okay, this is what you do. I was told this, you basically go knock on the door, read the script, see if you can help them out and see if you can get appointments set up for the investor to come down and have a next level meeting with them to see if you can buy the home. So I did that. Um, I didn't have a lot of success at that. I think I had very, very minimal success. But then surely after starting my cousin Mike and I flew out to California to shadow the number one guy in the country who's having success doing these, um, pre-foreclosure doors.
NICK: His name was Collin, he was out in San Diego. Once I saw the success that Collin was having and how his approach really differed from mine, I immediately, when I got back home to the east coast, changed my approach and I started, I started seeing success. I started getting invited in to, you know, the kitchen table or dining room table a lot more often. And I was able to set up a lot more appointments. But that was just because first off I started, I didn't, I don't really, this is, and this, so I have operated in my whole life. I didn't know what I was doing at first. I just, I, I started and then once I started I could find ways that I could improve, which is like for an example, I went to me when shadow Collin in San Diego saw his techniques and strategies and how much success he was having.
NICK: And then I model, I, I adjust my behavior and I started doing it like him and I started seeing results and that's, that's how I've always, I never went to college. Mmm. That's always how I've treated it. Not that that's an excuse or anything, but I'm just saying, I never, I always start before I, for I know how to do it because by starting you can, you can always get better if you wait to learn everything, um, before you start, chances are you're not going to be very good at anyway. So you might as well get, you might as well get started and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
JON: So what was Collin doing that you weren't?
NICK: It's funny because I would go up to the door, I had a list and like I said, I had a script so I would go, I would, okay, you got to go to this address, knock on the door, so I would go right up to the door, knock on the door, wait for someone to come to the door. And I would basically freak people out cause I'd be, I'd be, I'd be like right in their face like, Hey, my name is Nick Prefontaine with you know, pre properties here to, I'm here to help you. What are your unfortunate situation? And it would really turn people off. Collin's approach on the other hand was he would go up, you go to the door and maybe take a step up the steps, you know, a light friendly jingle, you know, on their door. Like a, like a friend and would take a step back and they would come in the door and as soon as they would come to their door, he, he'd say, Oh, gosh, I'm, you know, I'm sorry. I don't know if I have the right address. I'm going crazy. Do you, do you mind helping me out? I'm just confirming something for me. And once the homeowner, the prospective home owner saw their name on the list, they would open up tool, tell him what happened. Oh the bank, the bank, stupid, the bank, those to that are, Oh here's what happened. I got an accident, I'm working back to payback and everything. What by doing that and having opening that dialogue with them, then they were comfortable. They were comfortable talking to him about a potential solution.
JON: Well, cause now it's a conversation. It's not a sales pitch.
NICK: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
JON: Interesting. So for new agents, new real estate agents, what do you think is the biggest misunderstanding they have about real estate?
NICK: Um, I would say, okay, so this goes where, where, um, we work with investors and we are investors now. Um, so I think this goes with anyone in real estate in general, not just agents. I think the biggest misconception is the only way to buy a property is by going to a bank and getting a conventional loan. And buying a home that's listed with a REALTOR® or listed for sale by owner or something like that. Something that that is on the market out there. But there are, there are more ways to do, there are more ways to do things than just the standard conventional way of doing things and that that's kind of what we specialize in.
JON: Yeah. So I talked about it when I had your dad, Chris, on the show and your brother in law, Zachary Beach. Uh, but in case someone hasn't listened to those episodes, what does it mean when you guys talk about buying or selling a property on terms?
NICK: Sure. Well it's and I'll give, I can give you a listener who asked her. I, I delve into it a little bit. I can give you a listen to some things to check out if what I say resonates with them at all. But basically what it is, 10,000 foot view, it's a delayed cash sale. So we will enter into a contract with the seller or with a homeowner to buy their property at a certain price. Now that price is probably going to be a little higher than what they're able to get on the open market conventionally with a REALTOR®. So mainly we target homes that have had trouble selling on the open market. So we'll go in, say to the homeowner that we'll buy it at the higher price or we'll get, we'll give them that higher price, but it's only to come in the form of a delayed cash sale. So then it wouldn't necessarily get all their money today, but they will at the end of, you know, three, five, you know, seven years, whatever, whatever. We're able to negotiate at that point. Does that makes sense?
JON: Yeah, it does. Yeah. And you guys have written a few books along these lines, right?
NICK: Yeah, yeah. Um, my dad, my dad wrote an Amazon best seller, Real Estate on Your Terms, and my brother-in-law Zach and I wrote a, wrote a best seller with him called The New Rules of Real Estate Investing. And if your listeners are interested in that, they can go, we can send them a free copy. And when I say free Jon, I mean 100% free, we'll pay for the shipping. Um, oftentimes when when you subscribe to these things that say, we'll send you a free book, it's, Oh, you got to pay $10 for shipping, but we'll take care of that. Obviously it's a little delayed with the whole coronavirus says we're not in the office, but if if your listeners go to newrulesforfree.com they can submit their info there and I get the free book sent out to them. If what if, what I have to say resonates at all, excuse me.
NICK: What if say resonates at all with any of your listeners? They can go in, they're interested in learning more about this nonconventional approach, buying and selling on terms. Then go to smartrealestatecoach.com and again, that's smartrealestatecoach.com and right on the homepage. They can get registered with the free on your terms webinar, that's going to give them 60 minutes of great information, great content. And if by the end the whole premise makes sense to them. It's not for everyone, but if it, if it seems like a good fit for them, they're able to take the next step at the end of that webinar.
JON: Awesome. Yeah, that's a great place to start if anyone's interested. So I'd be remiss to act like nothing big is happening in the industry actually in the world right now. We're both recording from quarantine and our own houses. How do you expect the housing market to look a few months from now?
NICK: Well, we always talk about this and that the market because that's, that's right. Anyone know, any, anyone out there says to us, well, Hey, how do you think the market is right now? Well, there's thousands of different markets all over the country. Um, but I think right now we're seeing that people are looking for an alternative to the conventional way to buy and sell real estate, which is what we're able to offer. So the one way that the majority of people think is the way to buy a house. You go and look at a house, say it's listed with a REALTOR®, you make an offer, then you go to a bank, you get a conventional loan with them, you get approved for the loan and you sign personally on the house, you put a 20% down payment down and you buy the home.
NICK: Now the way, the way where we're doing things, buying and selling on terms, we're buying on a either a lease purchase, uh, with owner financing. If, if the seller, if the homeowner does not have a mortgage, we'll structured owner financing deal more, we can do a principal only payments. That's, that's sort of, that's one way that we buy, um, also subject to their existing loan. If they have an existing loan on the property and it's close to the value of the home, we'll buy it subject to the existing loan. So there's a number of ways that we can buy, but we're always selling on a rent to own or a lease purchase, meaning that where we're sticking a buyer in there with a down payment, um, anywhere from three to 10%. Then during the process we're getting them connected with a great credit enhancement company that's going to get back to us all and let us know how long it's going to be until they're mortgage ready. And then we'll just make sure we're giving them plenty of time with the lease to become mortgage ready. I think I went way off the rails there.
NICK: How the Coronavirus is changing things. So our process, the buyer product, the process, I don't bring in the buyer through each, each deal, um, to maximize their down payment and maximize the profit over the course of the deal is changing. Um, it's changing in that we weren't going out to show homes on, to begin with. We were never doing that. We are always sending, sending up a lockbox in the home and then allowing the person go view it. If the home was vacant, if the home was occupied, we were having a, our partner, that's what we refer to them as because they are our partner. We have equitable interest in the property. Walk them through the property. How it's changing is we're just being a little bit more cautious, um, about who we're sending in there.
NICK: We're vetting them a little bit more than we were because before I think we were, we are on the school of thought that we just wanted to get them in the home to see if they even liked it because oftentimes it wouldn't even be no man. Anyway, what now we're pre-qualifying them a little more. Of course, making sure they're feeling okay and they're not, you know, I don't have the sniffles or they don't have a cough or sore throat or anything as much as we can, but then after they view the home, they'll get it. They'll get an application back to us that says they're interested and that will tell us what they can do for a down payment, their income or cause their credit challenge. Then once I get those back, once we get those back, I'm calling them, I'm calling the buyer to review those and then in most cases, Jon, we're able to set up a buyer's meeting. Now, a buyer's meeting where we would have buyers drive to our office, sometimes up to two hours away to come meet with us in our office in Middletown, Rhode Island.
NICK: However, this is where it's really changing because with everything going on, we have to do the buyers meaning virtually. So it's kind of unfortunate just because the driving aspect of it shows the buyer's commitment level. If someone who wants to drive an hour, an hour and a half, even two hours for a home, they're obviously committed. Yeah. We would always, we would always require them to bring a $1,000 binder deposit now instead, how that's working, we're have, we're giving them our account information, having them deposit it prior to the buyers meeting and then we're doing the buyers meeting virtually, or we're just kind of going over everything in more detail. And if they, they get accepted after that, then they have to, so they're closing with our attorney. Hmm. It's all, it's just like you, it's all something that we're navigating us, both us and our associates all over the country work. We're all navigating it together. So I'm not saying there's a one size fits all that works, that that's just what we see is working and how it's changing. Oh, currently, right now we're finding more, more and more, um, sellers reached back out to us from months ago when we call them originally to say, Oh, I'm interested in working with guys now. So, very interesting.
JON: That's great. Yeah, it's, it's something that I've talked with, um, some colleagues about, you know, if this had all happened even 20 years ago, it would look so different. I mean, at least now we have, you know, virtual options for, uh, video calls, um, not quite as good as the real thing, but at least we can maintain some sanity that way. Uh, so why do you think it's so important to align yourself with a, an advisor who is themselves still doing deals?
NICK: Oh, this is important. And this is one of the things that, um, that I may have touched on talking about it by saying that, uh, both us and our associates are all navigating this together. So the important thing is we're still doing deals. So as we, as we're still in the trenches doing deals in our own, you know, our own business. So as we find different hurdles or different stumbling blocks with the market and you know, the market changing with, um, you know, not being able to meet buyers, excuse me, not being able to meet buyers physically for buyers meeting and have them do the binder deposit, uh, prior to the buyers meeting in all the little minute details like that. If we had done these even five years ago and we were advising people on how to do them, you wouldn't know to do that. But we're actually doing this so where we're navigating it together with our associates out there. So I think it's important every time there's a change in the market where there is a crisis like we're going through right now, we're able to give up to the minute, um, updates on what we're doing differently and how they can, they can implement that in their business. Whereas if someone did a deal five years ago on this very topic and they wouldn't be able to tell you what to do with this if this happened, if they weren't still doing deals.
JON: Yeah, that's a good point. You guys are facing the same challenges, so you know how to approach it. So, uh, what advice would you give to an agent trying to build out their own team?
NICK: This is interesting because I know, I know I have a, um, I have a unique perspective on this and I'm then, yeah, anyone else because I lived there, I feel that I feel that you should max yourself out first. Like get to a point where you can't do you like you can't do anymore to get to the next level. You're going to need some help and then at that point you should hire someone. And then now whether an assistant or a transaction coordinator or someone to help with the buyers just I feel as if if you're doing that, if you're able to max yourself out, then when you make that first hire, you'll be able to tell whether that person that you hired is max out or not. If they are maxed out, then that's your next hire. So I just think it's a very, um, it's very, you know, a systematic growth process. If a then B, if B, then C. um, but I know I deferred, I differ with people out there with how I think in that regard.
JON: No, I think that's great advice. I mean, you know, don't hire someone until you have something for them to do. Okay. Well this is my last question, Nick. Uh, if you could go back to the beginning of your career and change one thing, what would it be?
NICK: What do you mean? The beginning of my career?
JON: Well, just when you know, when you got started in real estate or anywhere near what you consider the beginning of, uh, you know, the journey you're currently on.
NICK: Hmm. I would say I want to go back just because this your audiences is I'm focused on folks on REALTORS® and helping REALTORS®. I would just go back to my real to when I got my real estate license, which would be March of '08. Um, and at that time I was, I just did the best I could with what I had. So in order to get a lead, um, for me at the time it was calling for sale by owners and expired listings. I knew I had to get, I had to make X number of calls mad to make X number of contacts. I broke down my goals to contacts. I just think, do most people out there know what to do? So I would say you just, you just have to go ahead and execute that. Do the best you can with what you got. I dunno if I would change a heck of a lot just because of the journey that I've been on, kind of brought me to where I am today. Yeah.
JON: Yeah. I mean it sounds like you've approached everything in the, just do it and then adjust from there, which I think is a great mentality.
NICK: Ready? Fire, aim. There you go. Ready? Yeah. Ready? Ready? Fire, aim. Yeah, that's right. I had to run through that in my head.
JON: Okay, so you, you gave the website before, but uh, again, just if somebody wants to learn more about what you guys do at Smart Real Estate Coach, how can they reach you?
NICK: Yeah, they can go do a, the best, best place to start is, again, it's smartrealestatecoach.com and they can get registered right in the home page for the, on your terms webinar. And that's over 60 minutes or about 60 minutes of content in there. And if I, the end, it's still, you know, it seems like it would be a good fit for them, which, you know, I'm not promising we're all things to all people, but if it does seem like a good fit for them, they'll be able to take that next step at the end of that webinar.
JON: Awesome. All right, Nick. Well thank you for joining me.
NICK: Thanks Jon. Nice to talk with another human.
JON: That’s it for this episode of Shop Talk, thanks for listening! If you enjoyed the talk, leave us a review or subscribe to us on your podcast player of choice. Shop Talk is a production of The CE Shop.