As a licensed Realtor in California for the last three decades, Don Dunbar has diligently built relationships with numerous clients and solved issues that could stand in the way of a successful real estate transaction. Don’s point of view is that everyone deserves the chance to own their own home — even if their financial situation is less than perfect. That said, he has earned his glowing reputation by working with buyers of all income levels and helping them find the keys to their dreams.
“I get a lot of people who call me, who want to buy a house, and some can and some can’t,” he explained. “For the ones who can't, we have a system in place to help them ...over a period of time.”
This system, in the words of Don, begins with the fact that he does not merely cast aside a buyer who is struggling to be financially approved. Rather, he compassionately works with these leads and shares pertinent information that can help them, while building their trust in him as an agent.
“A lot of agents have this idea that if the client comes in and they can't buy, they get their information, and then they just put them to the side. I don't do that,” he said.
Instead, Don, who used to work for an organization called Operation Hope — where he learned that “everybody wants to buy a property, but a lot of them can't do it right now” — puts the contact information for these challenged buyers into a different database and begins forwarding them useful information that can potentially help them overcome financial difficulties and resolve their credit concerns.
“I keep their information, and then I send them an email. I make sure that they're getting credit-related stuff because I worked for Operation Hope. I know how to compile the letters to send to the creditors. And I do all of it for free, and a lot of people say, ‘It's for free?’ They can't believe it's free. And I say, ‘I don't have to charge you to do this. I just click a button... It's not that complicated.’”
Cleaning up credit works wonders for Don’s clients, and many are eventually able to purchase the very home they never thought was possible. In one recent instance, a previously declined client was able to buy their dream property, after sprucing up their credit with Don’s assistance.
“We actually have a buyer now that we helped, who came to us two or three months ago, and they couldn't buy anything, and now they're buying a $400,000 house because we took the time to help them get their credit straight,” he beamed.
Don reflected on how working with these challenged buyers and seeing them through a transaction is the ideal way to plan for his own long-term success as an agent.
“Once you do that with the individual, they'll never leave you. They will always stick with you. You know? And I do that for a lot of people,” he said. “I may not get deals right away. But then, all of a sudden, down the line … Boom, here comes this buyer that I've done the work with, had a couple of phone calls with.”
Don candidly says that he did not always work with distressed buyers – it’s something he learned from the Jay Morrison Academy, after hearing that working with these buyers was a niche from which many other agents shied away.
“I followed [Jay Morrison] years ago, and then I actually met him in Oakland last year around this time,” he said. “One of the things he said was that a lot of people won't [work with these buyers]. So I started doing it, and it's really made a difference at the end of the day, when it comes to getting buyer clients. I had stopped working with buyers. So I figured, I can work with the buyers nobody is going to work with. And there's so many of them out there like that.”
These buyers are ripe for working with, according to Don, because agents aren’t constantly reaching out to them. With a little bit of TLC, they can be helped — and success in buying a home can be just around the corner.
“All you have to do is be accessible, stay in contact with them, communicate and make sure they're OK,” he pointed out. “Because they get discouraged really easily, and you keep them motivated.
“But there wouldn't have been a client if I didn’t do that,” he concluded. “You have so many people out there like that. It’s an untapped market. They're a little hard to deal with because they're slower, but it works.”