Selling a Home, Selling Commercial Financing – What’s the Difference?

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Realtor Showing New House To Loving CoupleAlternative funding brokers come from all different backgrounds, but for many them, being a broker is not their first job in sales. Some sold equipment, some sold cars and others sold homes. They were realtors. deBanked found two alternative funding brokers with a background in residential real estate and we asked them to compare the similarities and differences between selling a home and selling money.

Alex Alpert is the owner and CEO of Philadelphia-based Solomon Commercial Lending, which provides clients with a wide variety of funding from SBA loans, equipment leasing, factoring and some MCA. Before starting his company, he had worked as a residential realtor for about five years. When asked about his approach to selling a home versus selling money, he sees them as very different.  

“When I consider non-investment home ownership, it is 100% emotional,” Alpert said. “If you think about it, the most expensive and most intimate and emotional purchase that you’re ever going to make is going to be your home. As people, we pour ourselves into our homes. Our homes speak so much about our personalities – what we like, what we don’t. It’s literally like a biography [of someone.]”

Alpert spoke about the intangibles involved in residential real estate, how a lot of it is about the feel of a home, which is highly subjective.

“Instead of you manipulating what they want, it’s just guiding them to reach that ‘ah-ha’ moment,” Alpert said. “I didn’t walk around the house with them and say ‘This is the bedroom and this is the bathroom.’ I would stay back and just say ‘Take a walk around, see how it fits, jump in the bed if you want to, and see how you feel.’ And when they came back down, one of my common first questions would be, ‘Can you picture yourself living here?’ Because that question makes you visualize yourself waking up there. If you can pick up on what the person is showing at that moment, you can guide them better…I think I’m successful because I’m honest, I’m transparent, and I will tell you things you won’t expect. And at the end of the day, that’s how you build referrals and address the needs of an emotional transaction.”  

On the other hand, Alpert sees non-primary home deals as more transactional.      

“When it comes to business, it’s much less personal,” Alpert said. “People will certainly do their research on who they engage with. Most all of my business comes from referrals. But still, you don’t know me from Adam, and you’re sending me over everything…With [business transactions,] it’s based on need and your ability to serve that need. The emotional part, just from the start, is not that present. It’s a need and solution type of approach.”

Alpert will work with clients with tens of millions of dollars in revenue. But he acknowledged that for some of his smaller “mom and pop shop” clients, transactions can be emotional, like with a small town dance studio client he is helping to secure a 7(a) SBA loan for.    

James Celifarco, President of Horizon Financial Group in Brooklyn, which offers mostly small business loans and MCA, currently works as a realtor as well. He doesn’t see much of a difference in the way he approaches residential real estate clients versus small business merchants.    

“I think they’re very similar in that if [people] are buying or selling a home, it’s their most coveted possession,” Celifarco said. “It’s what they’ve worked the hardest to obtain. It’s their biggest asset. And it’s the same thing when dealing with a business owner. Business owners are probably more passionate than a homeowner. Either way, if you’re dealing with a business owner or a homeowner, it’s their prized possession.”

While not using the word “emotional,” Celifarco seemed to suggest that non-residential real estate deals are just as emotional.

“[For both homeowners and business owners,] you really have to deal with kid gloves in that they play very close to the vest,” Celifarco said. “You have to have a certain approach where they feel comfortable speaking with you about their home and their finances or their business and their finances. They want to know that their information is protected.”

Celebrity residential real estate agent Ryan Serhant, who spoke at Broker Fair 2018, said that he lives be three rules to successful in real estate: Follow up, Follow through and Follow back. The last refers to following back a client on social media. This part might not always apply, but Celifarco said that the same persistence is required regardless of the sales client.

“It’s all sales,” he said. “You eat what you kill. You close a deal, you make money. You sell a house, you make money. If you don’t, if you’re not reaching out to your clients, you’re not going to make any money. It’s the same in that you get paid for how hard you work.”  

Last modified: November 16, 2018
Todd Stone


Category: Business Lending, Loans, sales


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