As a real estate agent your business may be hitting hard by the current economic downturn. Your listings no longer sell and your buyers are taking forever to make purchase decisions. Meanwhile you still have to pay office expenses, broker fees, MLS subscriptions, board dues, etc. In this article I will discuss how you can earn extra income with your real estate license in addition to selling houses. Specifically I am talking about performing Broker Price Opinions (BPOs) for banks. I will also reveal a technique I personally use to grab those BPO orders before other agents do.
BPOs are basically mini Comparative Market Analysis (CMAs). Banks order BPOs whenever they want to know the value of the properties. This could happen in many occasions; for example, the owner could be applying for refinance, or the owner could be in default, or the property could be in foreclosure or in need of a short sale. Currently there is a huge demand for these BPO orders due to the foreclosure crisis. Since banks require BPOs to be performed by licensed real estate professionals, you can put your hard earned license to good use.
There are two types of BPOs. An exterior BPO does not require you to get into the property and typically pays $40 – $50. An interior BPO requires interior pictures of the property and typically pays $60 – $90. Granted you don’t earn a whole lot with each BPO order but keep in mind that a BPO can be completed in under an hour or so. Just do 3 to 5 BPOs a week will help pay for your basic expenses.
“Where do I find BPO orders?”
Although BPO orders are placed by banks, contacting banks directly would actually be a waste of time since most banks don’t handle them directly. Instead, they order BPOs through asset management companies. A quick way to find these companies is to Google “asset management companies bpo.” During your search you will come across some companies that are actually just directories. They usually require you to pay a fee to be listed as a BPO agent. They claim by listing on their directories the asset managers will find you. I have never had any luck with them so my advice is to save your money.
Once you find these companies you simply log on to their web site and register yourself as a “vendor.” You will be asked to fill out an online application with your information. Most companies will require a copy of your real estate license, your E&O insurance information, a W-9 form, and a list of zip codes or city names of the area you covered. Once you are registered, you will begin to receive emails whenever a BPO order becomes available. To maximum your chance of getting orders, you should try to register with as many companies as possible. I personally have registered with 15 companies and I know some agents have registered with over 50 companies.
One thing to pay attention to is that some of these asset management companies are so called “BPO shops” where they only handle BPO orders. Clear Capital is a well-known example of such company. On the other hand, some companies may also handle REO properties for banks. If you do a good job with your BPOs for these companies, you will have a chance of getting REO listings. Some companies such as Integrated Asset Services will give you the listing of the property that you performed a BPO on if that property ever becomes an REO. Thus if your goal is to eventually become an REO agent (which it should be as listing REO properties is EXTREMELY lucrative), then you may want to avoid those BPO shops and focus only on companies that can give you REO listings.
“OK. I got registered but I can’t get any BPO orders! What should I do?”
So you started to get emails of BPO requests. You were excited but when you replied to those requests you found the orders have already been taken by other agents. What happened? Well, when most asset management companies send out BPO requests, they don’t just send to one agent but to all agents that cover that particular city or zip code. Whoever answers the email first gets the order. You may be answering your email the second you get it, but your email program may only be querying the mail server every 30 minutes. So you could still be too late by the time you respond.
What can you do about it? Do you need to sit by your computer all day to respond to emails? Here is my solution. I use a separate email address specifically for BPO orders. Then have all emails sent to this address also forwarded to my cell phone email address. Most cell phone numbers have email addresses associated with them. For example, a Verizon Wireless cell would have an email address in the form of cellphonenumber @ vtext.com where “cellphonenumber” is the phone number. You can contact your cell phone service provider to get that information. Once it’s set up, every time a BPO request comes in, I get a text message to my cell immediately. I can then respond to the email right away. I have been able to get over 90% of BPOs since I implemented this technique.
You now have enough information to get into the BPO industry and the knowledge to beat out competitions. Start earning the extra money with those BPO orders when your regular business is slow and you may even be getting hundreds of REO listings in near future!
by Leo Liu