Truth in Advertising: One Realtor's Strategy to Sell Foreclosed Homes

John Harwood, a Los Angeles contractor, accompanied his client, Joella Thomas, on one of Klinge's real-life tours of foreclosed properties.

Like the many visitors who have found their way to www.bubbleinfo.com, Klinge's Web site of distressed properties, Harwood found the realtor's no-bull pitch to be appealing -- but admitted it could somehow all be a shtick.

"Seems like a real honest guy," Harwood said. "But you know, he's a realtor, so that could just be really, really good cover."

As they walked around the property, Thomas noted that the windows looked as though they had never been replaced.

"I don't think they've done anything to this place," she said.

"This probably needs to be around $150,000 to really be worth it," Klinge told them about one house on the market for $159,000. "Because once you put $50,000 into it, get it up at $200,000, that'd be around right. I don't think you're getting a lot more rent for this just because it's 1800 feet, because it's a bunch of goofy square footage."

Thomas said she appreciated Klinge's honesty.

"He seems to be real upfront with his information and seems like a real interesting guy," she said.

Tough on the Home Sellers

Klinge will tell it like it is to the home sellers, too. In what he calls our "microwave society," where "people know within minutes that you are on the market," if a property doesn't get offers in 10-14 days, he says it's time to lower the price.

"Lower early and often," Klinge advised."You ought to be lowering 5 percent until you get people coming."

That can be a bitter pill for a homeowner, who may not want to admit that their home could have lost as much as half its value.

But according to Klinge, in this market, "If [buyers] don't think you are giving [your home] away, they are not interested in paying retail."

He said his strategy to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth has been paying off. Klinge said he makes a good living, and doesn't need to resort to pressure tactics to make a sale.

He closed 43 deals last year, down from the 61 sales and purchases he brokered during his peak year of 2004.

For a man who says the realtor's handbook needs a revision, he's making an awfully good case.

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