Is a Sucker born every minute?

Dated: October 13 2019

Views: 392

The quote "There is a sucker born every minute" is often attributed to that great showman, P.T. Barnum; but the famous line was  in fact uttered by one of his competitors. (Story here) Fact is; there is probably a sucker born more often than every minute. We are all suckers at least once in our life.

 The con man understands the human mind and our desire to believe. He understands it so well - he is able to capitalize on our inherent gullibility.

 Years ago I was working on my Cyperlin project - an 80,000sf office building I was planning on the corner of Summerlin and Cypress Lake Drive. During our pre-sell period I received a call from a local real estate agent.

 "Would you be interested in selling the entire project?" she asked. 

Now keep in mind this was a $24 million dollar project and the success of Cyperlin depended in great part on my ability to pre-sell individual floors to end users so I could get financing. I had letters of intent for three of the floors, but as of yet no deposits or contracts.

 "Indeed I would" was my simple reply.

 Over the course of the next two weeks two conference calls were set up with her buyer. He wanted to move his oil trading company to Fort Myers, in fact he was thinking of buying Al Hoffman's waterfront mansion in Gulf Harbour (This is how the agent was first approached by the buyer).  He wanted the entire building. He asked all the right questions.  He was very interested in qualifying me and the project. 

"Could I meet him at his Palm Beach house next week to discuss the deal?"  

He offered that he would fly his private plane to pick me up.  He called the day before the meeting and postponed it to the following week. Then he never called back.


 But I wanted to believe him.  I kept giving him the benefit of the doubt; kept calling him long after it should have been obvious this was some kind of fraud.


 Cyperlin, by the way, never did come out of the ground, the market turned before we reached our pre-sell goal and I never closed on the land. My gorgeous window walled,  eight story building I still hope to build some day - but Northern Trust wound up buying the property and putting another  cooker cutter Mediterranean style building on the corner. I get a wave of disappointment every time I drive by. 

There is a sucker born every minute and just as there are suckers, there are the perpetrators of the fraud, the suckee to the suckor. The unscrupulous capitalize on the current market wherever there is a frenzy in the market or a new trend on the horizon, you can bet there will be those that will capitalize on it.

 Late night TV "infomercials" seem to be a good barometer, and lately, with TV advertising getting so cheap - we can see these ads on prime time. 

Here, without qualification, are some of the areas that just MAY be ripe for the gullible in the real estate world


1.       Credit repair

        Wire transfers

2.       High end home sales

3.       Get rich quick flips

4.       Making Money in Foreclosures

5.       Loan Modification consulting

6.       “Upsell”  free sales courses

7.       Buy bank lists (or foreclosure lists or pre-fore-closure lists)


Ok, I know I probably missed some good ones, and some of the above areas have very legitimate providers and opportunities. But be careful, for when you want to believe something is true, it is very easy to be lulled into tuning fantasy into fact - with conviction.


If you need help with your real estate transactions, or you need advice negotiating with your bank, effecting a short sale,  or an appraisal on your home; seek a reputable advisor - and a good place to start is by asking your friends and neighbors, or give me a call or drop me an email. Is there profit to make in this down market?


Of course.


 Is it easy, quick and risk free?


Of course not.


As always, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't.


But take heart, membership in the "I've been suckered" club is not very exclusive

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Gregg Fous

Real estate has been my passion since I took my first Al Lowery class on real estate investing in the 1970’s. I vowed during that class that I would buy one property a year. Over the next five ....

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