If you're in the real estate space and live anywhere near Vegas, you might either know or have heard of Mike Patton. He's a lifer in the industry, having grown up in real estate and been everything from an appraiser to a loan originator and beyond. In fact, he has seven uncles and one grandfather who were all general contractors, so he knows real estate like a chef knows food. Mike holds a degree in economics from the University of Oregon and has been working in the industry since 1976. We were fortunate enough to chat with him recently, and he shared his journey with us.
What's your origin story?
"I got licensed in 1976, at the age of 22," Mike says. "I went to work as an appraiser. I found out after doing appraisal work that it just wasn’t satisfying because of a lack of interaction with people." Mike moved into the mortgage arena and became a loan originator, moving to Southern California, where he’d spent his earliest years, and where his wife was from. "In 1980, interest rates were around 18 percent. It was a damn good time to cut your teeth and learn how to help people become homeowners. The desire to be a homeowner never went away; it was just dealing with the reality of 'how can we actually do this?'"
Mike was a loan originator from 1980 to 2001 and did about 4,500 purchase transactions. "I never got into the re-fi game at all; I loved everything about the homeownership arena. Working with agents was naturally a component of that, so I at least thought I had great insight into what being an agent was."
Mike remembers when the Neighborhood Stabilization Act passed in the 90's, "which effectively said that if you could fog a mirror, you could get a home loan. I’ve got this personal ethics thing that says if I bump into you at Home Depot or Lowe’s, I never have to duck down another aisle because I’m embarrassed over anything I'd said or done with you." Since he was a lender at the time, and he had concluded that buying a home might well be the worst thing anybody who couldn’t afford one might be able to do, he decided to move in a different direction, even though he absolutely loved his work.
"I took down that shingle," Mike says, "and got my real estate license here in Nevada. I became an agent and opened an office. It was a franchise of a firm with about 950 locations nationwide. In my third year of operation, I had attained the number three spot among those 950 offices." Though he "was making money hand over fist," Mike only worked with sellers. "We would not work a buyer at all. We were solely focused on selling homes as quickly and as efficiently as possible, and I never had to feel badly for putting you into a home you couldn't afford. We wouldn’t help you find your next one; we’d let you go to Century21 or Re/Max or whatever. So, we ignored a lot of revenue, but I kept my personal values in line."
Mike's team did about 2,000 listings per year and commanded six percent of the entire Las Vegas market. "My wife, Terry, who is our principal transaction coordinator today, had owned a Mail Boxes Etc. when we started dating in the nineties. She was burnt out and wanted to get her license, so she did, and even though we worked exclusively with sellers and we weren’t in any way trying to give anybody false hope about owning their dream home, she just hated everything about the drama of negotiations. There was so much stress about how if the buyer wanted the seller to caulk the toilet, the whole deal could blow up over something like that." But Terry absolutely thrived in the transaction part of the real estate world.
"When the market crashed, I went over and worked on REOs [real estate owned— property owned by a lender; typically a bank, government agency, or government loan insurer] and short sales," Mike says. Terry went to work for one of the biggest REO brokers in town, running their transaction department. "She was involved in closing 700–800 deals a year. She did that for a few years, basically with Excel spreadsheets and truckloads of paper. About five or six years ago, the REO market was slowing down a bunch, and she decided to set up an office at home and work independently."
How did you find us?
In 2015, Terry realized that she was turning away business because she wasn't systematized to handle it. She knew that was Mike's strength and convinced him to get involved on the transaction management side of the business. "I kind of put one toe in the water by coming in and sampling a number of software programs. TC Docs, Paperless Pipeline, EZ Coordinator, Reesio—" The list goes on. Mike says, "We were kind of satisfied with TC Docs, and I went to Dallas, and I think it was March 2018 when I bumped into Shane."
Mike wasted no time pointing out to Shane that he was not technically very literate, but "Shane was very open and accessible and encouraging. The one issue that I’d had with TC Docs? Shane hit it right out of the park the moment I brought it up. At the time, TC Docs had a philosophy that they did not want to entangle themselves or be too closely meshed together with anything related to Google. I questioned Bruce and Sharon, the owners; very decent people. As helpful as Shane has been to me, Bruce and Sharon were as well. I’ve got nothing negative to say about them as people, in fact I won’t say anything negative about the company at all. It was just, for me, I couldn’t understand not embracing the eighty-million-pound gorilla of Google."
Mike and his team "jumped over to TCWorkflow. I was quickly immersed, at my elementary level, of building out workflows. We set up our TCWorkflow system and were using it haphazardly, nowhere near efficient, and still, Terry doubled or even tripled what she was doing. Just the preformatted letters, the mail merge ability, the reminders that are triggered and go out; I mean, so much of what was in her head or had to be manually pasted together in Gmail was taken care of by TCWorkflow."
About a month ago, as of this writing, Mike's personable approach landed him a rather large opportunity through some referrals, and within the span of a week, the business doubled from 250 deals a year to 500. "At that point," Mike says, "we looked around and, fortunately, due to my interaction in the [TCWorkflow Facebook] group, I had met many people, Brandy Chase being one of them.
I greatly admired what she’d done, so we’ve retained Brandy to consult and help us basically emulate what she built [for herself in TCWorkflow.] In fact, I take pride in being one of the huge promoters of TCWorkflow to Brandy to get her to ever leave Paperless Pipeline and come over. And now, she’s teaching us how to use it more effectively than before."
What can we do better for you?
"Honestly," Mike says, "I can’t think of anything that I have ever been disappointed with since I first met Shane." Man, that’s a big statement. "Yeah," Mike says. "And I don’t give false praise. When I go out and make positive comments on TCWorkflow and my interaction with Shane, it’s legit." Mike confesses that he's at an age where he wouldn’t care if a lot of people thought he was a bag of hot air. "I heard a guy yesterday say that in your twenties, you put on airs because you think everybody’s looking at you. In your forties, you realize that maybe they’re not, and in your sixties, you realize that they never were."
Mike says, "I know, even though we’ve only used it at fifty percent capacity— and my main VA in the Philippines says, no, maybe only forty percent— and Brandy might say we’ve only used it at thirty percent [laughs], I don’t know. Even though we haven’t used it to the fullest extent of its capabilities, actually seeing the difference TCWorkflow has made in my wife’s day is just tremendous."
The referrals Mike got all came from different brokerages. One of them did 82 deals last year flying solo. It's a good thing he and his staff have help in the form of TCWorkflow, and that they're able to automate so many of their repetitive tasks.
Where do you see things headed?
Mike expects that in the next five years the industry will see up to one-half of all the real estate agents disappear in America. Mike sees "a continuing movement ahead by the institutional buyers," like Zillow, which is currently snapping up inventory quite on its own, thank you very much, and selling it directly to buyers with no need for an agent at all. Mike says, "People are contacting Zillow, and they say you can sell your home, move whatever day you want, we’ll pay cash, and nobody will ever walk through it. There are a lot of customers that agents have been taking for granted; they always thought they were the only game in town." But the market is learning, and if buyers can pay ten to twenty grand less than an agent would have cost them, plus avoid the hassle of showing the home in the first place, it's a no-brainer.
If agents don’t up their game, Mike says things will get ugly. "This is the biggest value proposition that we as TCs have: we can be part of your customer support team to your clients. I mean, if you looked at our task lists, you would see that we are reaching out to the buyer or the seller on behalf of the agent a dozen times, and it’s usually something like, 'Hi, Joe and Mary! Your agent Paul wanted me to send this PDF of the Clark County school district zoning just so that you have a record in your files that the property you’re buying is zoned for X elementary school and X junior high and X high school.' Now, how many agents do you think are going to take the time to do that? Probably zero. When I tell agents about this, they roll their eyes and say, why would I even open that door? And it’s like, you’re supposed to be providing something of value. Anybody can unlock a home. Don’t you think there’s value to knowing that it’s in the right school district?"
Mike says, "What I know is that you’ve probably bought and sold two or three homes in your life, but you’ve never been treated that way. The agent who treats you that way is gonna be remembered." This is where automation and CRM and referrals begin to become synergistic; one and the same, almost. "When we close a deal," Mike says, "we send a merged PDF of every signed document they touched throughout the transaction. Agents have been trained to do that kind of thing for fifty years. Almost none of them do it." With TCWorkflow, Mike says that "We can automate the whole thing, and it just happens." If our system works for Mike and his team, we can help you help your agents, too. You really can do almost anything with TCWorkflow. It just depends on how creative you are as you apply the power of our automation.
"Where we’re at now," Mike says, "is we’ve got Open Door, Zillow, Offerpad, the institutional cash buyer. I read an article recently that said that Keller Williams, Coldwell Banker, Century21, the big franchise systems, are all rolling out their own cash purchase plans. They recognize that their business model of providing a home for real estate agents is under attack, and maybe they had better figure out a way to not miss out on all of the opportunities that Zillow and others are getting." In a business landscape that is changing this fast, you need the agility that only technology can leverage for you. At this point, if you don't automate, your competitors will.
If you're interested in what TCWorkflow can do to make you at least twice as efficient as you are without us, click here. Our 2/10/40 principle means that we're on a mission to help you get back 2 hours a day, 10 hours a week, 40 hours a month. Imagine what you could do if you didn't have to do as much.