The Benefits of Becoming a Member of the Society

There is an old saying, “You get out of something what you put into it.” This usually means that if you put a lot into something, you will get a lot back, or if you put a little in, you can expect little back. But sometimes you can put a lot of effort into a poorly thought-out project and get nothing back. Today we have many opportunities in which we can invest our time and energies. The important question is in which project or group you should invest your time and energy. Becoming a member of The Society of Exchange Counselors will take a lot of time and energy, but there are also a lot of benefits.

My first time as a guest at an S.E.C. meeting was almost six years ago. At that time I had no idea what the benefits of becoming a member would be. I found it interesting that members and guests came from all over the United States, but how could I ever benefit from someone from California or New Jersey? Some were almost half my age, and some were in their 80s. The group was made up of developers, brokers, lenders, property owners, and people who bought and sold notes—what a diverse group. I was a commercial real estate broker in Dallas, Texas, and I knew little or nothing about most of the markets these people were from.

I sat through three days of intense marketing sessions where they presented properties and talked about formulas, creating paper, swapping equities, option contracts, and 3- or 4-way exchanges. They even used terms that I had no idea what they meant. Most of the properties were not in my home state, and I sure didn’t have clients wanting to buy apartments 2,000 miles from where they lived. Needless to say, I did not immediately see the benefits of becoming a part of this group.

The reason I attended the next couple of meetings was not exactly clear, but I did. Several things about this group were clear, however. They all seemed to be very genuine and friendly. Many were extremely creative—that was obvious. Many told me that they did 80% of their business with other members of the group and I wanted to know why. This was a very successful group of people and they obviously saw great benefits in being a part of the Society of Exchange Counselors.

There is another saying that goes, “Knowledge is power.” It was clear to me that many in this group did not do business the way I had been doing it for over thirty years. This was a very successful and knowledgeable group of people and I wanted to know more about the way they did business. They knew something I did not, and I was intrigued.

For the first couple of years I attended most of the bimonthly meetings. It took a while, but I learned the jargon they used and I began to understand the way they did their transactions and why. The S.E.C. offers courses on such topics as Counseling Your Client, Methods of Effective Marketing, Creative Real Estate Formulas, Broker Estate Building, and many more. I have taken many of these courses and learned a great deal. Remember, knowledge is power, and the S.E.C. strives to share its knowledge with its members and guests. With new knowledge comes more opportunities to complete transactions successfully. Today I am a much better broker for having learned how to counsel my clients as to how to accomplish their goals. Obviously, gaining knowledge is one of the great benefits of becoming involved with the S.E.C.

Another benefit I had not really thought much about was the development of close friendships within the Society. At first I only knew a few of the members, but within two years I had gotten to be good friends with most of the regular attendees. I would probably call a dozen close friends. One of the emphases of the Society is to develop one’s own portfolio of real estate. I had owned real estate in the past, but after the crash in the mid 80s, I had gotten away from owning commercial real estate myself. I had focused on being a good broker, selling and finding properties for my clients. I had put money into other investments, some good and some bad. The S.E.C. made me realize that I should be investing my savings in real estate, the one investment I know best. Today I am in dozens of real estate partnerships with many of my closest friends and fellow members of the S.E.C. Many of these properties are not even in Texas. The diversity of this group, which at first I thought was perhaps a drawback, has turned out to be a great benefit. As you become good friends with members, you realize everyone has different talents and strengths. Partnerships are formed in which each member brings a different set of talents to the group. One partner might have the market knowledge to spot a good deal, another might do a great job with the due diligence and another might be the one to help raise the needed equity. I know now why many members do 80% of their business with other members. Close friendships are formed and you know who to trust and with whom you enjoy doing transactions.

Knowledge and friendships are two great benefits of becoming a S.E.C. member. A third benefit is the expansion of your network and opportunities. The Society is made up of successful and knowledgeable professionals all across the United States, and all these members love to help one another when the occasion arises. The more you get involved, the more you learn about who has certain expertise in different areas. If you find an opportunity that needs development expertise, you know who to call. If you need to reposition an asset, you know who has done that numerous times. If you hear of a great opportunity in another state, there is probably someone in the society who knows that area and can partner with you or give you sound advice. No longer are you confined to your local market and your tight-knit group of local contacts.

There really are many more benefits, but I would just say in summary that there are not many groups like the S.E.C. The group in many ways is like a family. The cohesiveness of this group is friendship and a desire that revolves around real estate. It is made up of a diverse group of individuals with exceptional talents and skills. It is a very giving group that enjoys helping one another succeed. Most of the members would bend over backwards to help one another because they feel a kinship that strengthens over the years. The old saying, “You get out of something what you put into it” really is not true regarding membership in the S.E.C.—you will get more than you ever imagined.

One Comment »

  1. Well said! Great to have David Cook SEC as a member.