What will I accomplish this year?   How much money will I make?  How many deals will I do?  Will this year be better than last year?  These are all valid questions to ask our selves and worthy of consideration.  I’m always asking questions; questions of sellers, buyers, lenders, contractors, tenants, students, and myself.

There was a time I actually feared asking questions because I had a big fat ego.  I was afraid that people would get the idea I didn’t know everything and therefore be less credible.   Thankfully, I learned a more correct way of thinking.  Asking questions creates a learning opportunity and most people are generally willing to respond if you are polite and respectful of their time.  As time wore on I discovered that it wasn’t just a matter of asking questions that elicited the knowledge or information I was seeking, it was asking the right questions.  Better questions generate better information.  Here are a few examples:

Early on, I used to ask sellers, “What’s the least you’ll take for your property” because that’s what the gurus taught.  While it’s not a bad question, I think there are better ones.  One is, “What’s the least you’d be willing to take for your equity?”  Its a better question because it improves the dialogue and positions you for a “subject to” transaction.  For those unfamiliar, a “Subject To” transaction is one in which you use the existing financing to acquire the property by taking over the payments rather than going out and getting a new loan.

When I work with private lenders today, I ask questions about their financial goals and objectives rather than, “do you have any money to lend?”  This allows me to establish long-term relationships rather than one shot deals.  It also helps me negotiate better terms that mitigate risk for both parties.  I find it works much better for both of us.

Learning to ask better questions will get you the information you need and will also get you on the right path.  I’ll leave you with two of my favorites that may help you  as you prepare for the year ahead.  They are simple yet challenging.  First, “What do you really want?” followed by “How will you know when I’ve got it?”  These two questions always drive me to examine where I am, where I want to go and how I will get there.  They haven’t failed me yet.  I hope they serve you as well.

So where are the answers?   They’re in the questions themselves!

To your success….