Dean Graziosi is one of those "experts" who makes a living selling real estate books, real estate CDs and other programs explaining how you can make money in real estate by following his advice. If everything were that easy, I guess we all would be rich.

As you can imagine, I don’t have much patience for so-called gurus, as everything about them seems a bit incredulous. Graziosi claims he’s a multimillionaire and a best-selling author.

Like me, he lives in the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix metro area) and I thought I would make contact. So, I gave a phone call to his public relations team and a few days later he and I were chatting.

Graziosi definitely has a winning personality, which probably is why he makes such a believable guru. And he really came off as a nice fellow.

There was an interesting item in our discussion that caught my ear: He had noticed through his various forums a large uptick in women getting involved in real estate.

Of course, there are probably a million female real estate professionals across the country, but Graziosi advocates a whole different approach to the business. His program is for you to be a virtual wholesaler and create a business that could be conducted from home — all it takes is a phone and a computer.

The idea is to be a middleman. You go out and find motivated buyers who have cash but not a lot of time to seek out acquisitions and then find the great deals, match the two, and as Graziosi said: "make money in the middle."

Graziosi has a good sense of what’s happening in that middleman market because he runs a kind of bulletin board on his website. "I watch it everyday — I’m addicted to it," he said.

The site gets 300 to 500 postings daily.

At first, it was typically guys posting up. Then once in a while a husband and wife team would post. Starting about eight to 10 months ago, he notes, "we saw a wave of women posting, saying ‘this is what I’ve done, this where I’m at.’ "

All of a sudden on the site there were a host of Anitas, Renas, Laurens and Carolyns and they were each motivating each other, creating a round-robin of professional support. "One might say, ‘I don’t think real estate is going to work for me,’ and the others would come in and say, ‘Don’t you dare give up on your dreams. Look what I did.’

"It has been like a snowball going downhill; it’s just been great to watch the evolution," Graziosi said.

So what’s causing so many women to try their hand at real estate without actually buying property? …CONTINUED

Actually, Graziosi admitted, it’s less about the real estate, and more about the kind of work that could be done at home because of unemployment situations.

"A lot of husbands have lost their jobs, so moms have had to find employment, which means putting their kids in day care. That can be very expensive," Graziosi said. "Moms are looking for a way to make money at home."

This phenomenon of women tiptoeing into real estate through the Graziosi method, he says, "is a combination of down market, using the Internet, and a desire to get out of debt."

OK, I like the idea of spouses trying to make money using the Internet, but does this "real estate middleman" concept really work? And if it does, how hard do you have to work at it to make it pay off.

He gives the example of Carol S., a mom with seven children, the youngest of which is handicapped — that forced her to stay at home. Right now, said Graziosi, she has a list of 1,500 potential buyers.

This is how she did it, he explained: "First, she called a real estate agent who she knew and asked for everybody in the area she was targeting who paid cash for a home in the last sixth months. Once she got that list, she went through it and highlighted anybody who bought more than one home and figured out what these people were buying and where.

"Then she reached out, ‘I know you’re buying this kind of house and I know you’re buying with cash. If I bring you deals like this, would you be interested?’ No buyer would say no if you’re bringing in a great deal."

Another thing Carol S. did was call everyone who had a house for rent because sometimes she would find a tired landlord who wanted to sell, or she came across an investor who liked rental units, and she put them on her list. Carol S. still puts more buyers on her list, but her focus shifted to her top 30.

Graziosi’s theory is to find the buyers first and the deals second. "Finding deals first takes time, energy and effort, which then turns to frustration when you can’t find anyone to do the deal," he said.

And where does Carol S. find her deals? The usual places: Craigslist, want ads, for-sale-by-owner signs, county records searches to find out who is going into foreclosure. If an amazing deal pops up, she’ll try to lock it up for a week, e-mailing all her buyers to see who is interested.

"Carol has been lucky enough to sell every deal she’s locked up," Graziosi said. "Sometimes she makes $2,500 on a deal. The most she’s ever made was $15,000."

Or as Graziosi notes, "This is not your old-school ‘buy a house, fix it up and make $100,000.’ This is a tiny little piece in the middle that still makes everybody happy."

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