What You Missed - October 2009 General Meeting
By Bob Davis

Pete Fortunato

Pete Fortunato started his real estate career in the early 60’s with no money and no experience. He had a goal to live comfortably and be unemployed. He said it took him about 10 years to achieve enough rental income to retire from the working force. He did this by replacing work with assets. He accomplished a lot of this by making people feel comfortable with deals. “We are in the people business,” he said. Pete believes it is a mistake to think this is a money business. We can often trade things for real estate instead of just throwing money at the seller. Pete said we have to find out what is making someone unhappy and make a deal that will cure the unhappiness.

One example Pete gave is about a vacant lot a woman had. She derived no income from it and additionally had to pay taxes every year. She wanted to stop paying the taxes each year and maybe do some writing to create income. She traded the vacant lot for a computer she could use for that purpose. The computer was more valuable to her than the lot. When we find out what’s in it for the other person – what makes them uncomfortable – we can propose a win-win solution.

At one time Pete went door to door asking if people wanted to sell their house. Of course he would pick a particular area in which he wanted to buy houses. Most people weren’t selling, but he would leave his name and number for them in case they wanted to sell later or found out someone wanted to sell a house. This is an effective way of farming an area that often will bring results sometimes a year or more later. He believes we should spread the word and ask for help. If we treat people right, we can often enjoy repeat business from either them or someone they know and recommend you to. The first deal he made was for a triplex. He created a note for $12,000 for the seller’s equity. After over 40 years of keeping his word and paying when he said he would, Pete says he has done 27 deals with this same man.

Pete talked about what we might do to be successful. We should invest any surplus money we earn into assets that will produce income for us. Always keep our word. Find out what is uncomfortable for the seller and propose a remedy that will be agreeable to both parties. Ask “Why would you sell a nice house like that?” Negotiations are successful if both parties are happier than they were. Pete does seminars on creative uses of paper and is proud to claim he is unemployable.

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