Mojave Desert Sand Dunes

I went camping with my son’s Boy Scout group. It was a great weekend. We got to do some local hiking and campfires but what was really awesome was a particular trip to the sand dunes.

It was literally a mountain made out of sand and the entire hike from beginning to mountaintop was all sand as it was the desert.

At first, it was fun and there were many people at the very bottom of the mountain where everybody began but as I continued on this travel the more lonely, it became as people gave up and went back home. Understandably so I could really begin to feel the pain in my legs and upper thighs. Some of the stronger boys moved ahead, some of the other boys slowly progressed, and then some of the other boys were at the very end but still moving forward.

Since I was one of the dads leading these boys I stayed behind with some of them as they needed to take their time to make it to the top. As we were walking, some of them would tell me how they were in pain and how they wanted to quit. They would also compare themselves to the boys that were in way ahead but I reminded them that there is no race to get to the top or to be the first to arrive but rather the race is only with ourselves. What really matters is that we stick with it and get to the top in our own time. We can stop to rest and get some air but we will keep on going until we reach the top. Some of these boys responded by sharing that they had never done anything like this before and how they felt they were not very strong. 

Obviously these boys were very capable and strong as any of the other boys but it’s amazing how we talk ourselves out of success. One of the boys said I’ve done enough I feel that this is already a success. I responded by affirming that it is a success but his goal from the beginning was to make it to the top and there is no reason for him not to reach that goal. It reminds me how we all need a voice of encouragement in our corner, a coach.

This past week I had a new student come through my real estate program and one of the items in my initial coaching sheet is for the student to list his or her support group. This student shared with me that he has absolutely nobody in his support group.  He said that the only individual in his support group is me! I ask this question because I know that the walk to real estate entrepreneurship can be a tough one. It’s so important to have that voice that reminds you that you can do it and to keep going!

Sometimes what takes us out of the game is that we see how well the other person seems to be doing and we tend to compare ourselves. We compare our results with theirs and that’s a big mistake. There is no need for you to compare yourself to anybody else. You are your own person. When the boys on the hike mentioned that there were other Boy Scouts that were way ahead, it created this idea of inferiority in their head and that is just a false idea that we need to let go of immediately because that false idea will hold us back from being able to move forward. 

 Once we got past the halfway point, it’s like something special clicked in them. It was that they had come so far already and they could recognize that. Yes, we were absolutely in pain but there is no way that we would be defeated having come this far to turn back now. 

As we got closer to the top, there was a man and a woman heading down. They had noticed our group of kids and told us how we were almost there.  They told us how it was so worth it once we got to the top and that it would be amazing. These words of encouragement made us smile. I believe that as we get closer to the top of our real estate career, we will also be encouraged with folks that share some light on our day.

Now here we were on the last stretch and I found this last stretch to be the absolute hardest part of this hike. In fact, it was such a steep incline at this point that the only way to get to the top was to hike on all fours. What made it more difficult was that with every hike forward a ton of sand would slide down. Sometimes in business that too is how it is. In your last stretch to make it to the top you encounter unexpected difficulties, but let me remind you that those are just temporary and all the more reason why you should push to get to the top.

Finally, we made it to the top and the only thing at this point that would help an individual get to the top was your own will and determination, as each person was really on his own trying to get himself up that steep sandy hill and climb as fast as he could.

As soon as we reached the top, we immediately threw ourselves on our backs out of happiness and exhaustion. But then we looked up and realized the hike was not over yet there was still an additional stretch that we had to hike. Luckily this time all we had to do was just take one step in front of the other. Yes, it was exhausting at this point but we could see the top and we slowly got ourselves up. What was so beautiful is that as we got closer all the other boys that had already made it to the top were cheering us on! My boys felt so encouraged, and so happy and proud of themselves to be part of this group. We finally made it to the top and celebrated!

Our group of Boy Scouts were the only people at the top of this mountain. It was absolutely all ours. I’ve heard the words before, that it’s crowded at the bottom and lonely at the top in business success. That was absolutely the case here as well. It took a lot of hard work and it took a lot of time to get up there but the taste of victory and the satisfaction to know that we had conquered it ourself was a one of a kind experience.

My boys that had a bit of a challenge were screaming and crying out of happiness as they shared how they never thought that they could do something like this in their life and they felt so confident now and they really felt like they could do many more things they now realize that they have the power to do so much in life and how they should not allow others or their own self doubts stop them. 

This is how I have found my walk in real estate to be. I remember the day I went to my first seminar and how there were hundreds and hundreds of people there. But after I got my first house how none of those people were there anymore, as most had already quit. The ones I stayed in touch with thought I was a bit strange since I continue to push forward. And just like the hike along the way, I had words of encouragement from people I met through seminars who also had my same interest in getting to the top. Was it hard ? Absolutely! Did I ever want to give up? Yes! Have I reached the top of my mountain? I feel I have reached a peak but there are so many more to climb. That is a good thing because the opportunities are there as long as I choose to go after them!

I wish you the best in your climb to the top of your mountain. 

This Dog has Too Many Fleas

This dog has too many fleas!

That is exactly what one of my buyers said about a property that was offered to him.
I absolutely love my field of work because you see the funniest, the craziest, and the ugliest things out there in the real estate market place.

This house is so beyond repairs that it needs to be fully gutted and redone from beginning to end. This is a probate property that one of my students tied up and through our group is offering it to another student and as much as this student wants to buy it, for him the numbers just don’t pencil out.

So what do you do when this happens?

What do you do when you’ve negotiated a property down as best as you could and you are wholesaling it but the market just isn’t buying it?

Well, you go back to the drawing board and re-negotiate. You use what ever data you have acquired as to why this property is not worth its current price. In this case there are many permit discrepancies and incomplete and incorrect work on this house.
In the investors defense (who tied it up); he never drove to this house and has never physically met with the seller.

However, through our modern day technology (Google maps) which is readily available to all of us; he has been able to see what the house looks like and negotiate this price by understanding the sellers motivation and needs for selling.

And he’s almost there,so now it’s time to head on back to the negotiation table and work out the numbers so that everybody can walk away with a win!

By the way, this is a mobile home.

Here’s a picture that was sent to me from one of the prospective buyers.


Probate property

Question Answered-Notice of Proposed Action

Happy New Year 2015

santa barbara courthouse


Wishing you a Happy New Year as we kick off 2015.

I love traveling and many of you know that I love visiting the courthouses as I travel.  My recent road trip to Santa Barbara was no different.  I always love to take time to reflect on all my accomplishments whether big or small.  I also review my long term goals to make sure they are still relevant to where I’m headed.  Then I write down my goals for the new year. A few years ago I shared a template for working on goals.

I’m re-attaching the goal sheets here that I shared back in 2011.

Goal Setting 2011 in Word

Goal Setting 2011 in PDF



Thanksgiving email answered

This is an email I got over the Thanksgiving weekend. I thought you could benefit from the answer.

——– Original Message ——–

Subject: RE: Happy Thanksgiving


Wow! Long time, no hear. I know it is a blast to your database and I am one of many, but I am grateful for your email wishes and wish you much success beyond what you have already accomplished. 2015 may be the year I excel In probate! Do you have any updates on how probate has changed in the past 5 years? Did the recession affect it? Has competition become more intense for the probate properties since the auctions, REOs and short sales have diminished for the house flippers?



Hi Greg,

Opportunities in probate are still steady even as the reo and short sales have decreased.

Many have come to realize that the market of opportunity can be found in probate which, ironically, has been here all along even in the REO and short sale days.   What’s different today is that many people have jumped into probate without knowing what they are doing and then jump out almost as quickly as they came in.

But truth be told, I’ve seen that happen throughout my entire investing career.  People jump in, they think they can figure it out on their own, get frustrated, jump out, and move on to something else.

The big difference I would highlight is that there are more people in this niche that don’t know what they are doing, than those that do. Sometimes that means they are over-paying for these probate properties and other times they end up frustrating these poor executors and administrators.

Your angle should be to stand out from those individuals.

Get informed and educated and connect with the right network that understands this niche.

To your success,



Having fun in real estate?

I love finding probate in the newspaper.

This weeks article is about a man who inherited a Revolutionary Era ship.

It just shows that there is so much history to be found within probate.  There are treasures just waiting to be discovered.  That’s one of the things that makes this business so much fun and it’s also why I love it so much.



What is your why?

Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid

I just came back from a peaceful vacation in Utah. I got to stay in a log cabin surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of acres of beautiful country and the view right in front of me was the incredible Bryce Canyon.

It was on this trip, that I got to sit and read all about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid.

I’ve always been fascinated with the Old west but what fascinated me even more is the correlation between the amateurs/wannabes and professionals from the Old West bank/ train robbers and today’s real estate market.

Now, hold on I’m not saying that robbing anything is a profession or that it is good, but there is a distinction between a wannabe who gets amateur results and somebody who focuses, studies, and executes with precision to get the results that he or she was/is after.

Butch Cassidy was most definitely a professional robber and what he did that sets him aside from everybody else in that “line of work” is that he took the time to study vs. just winging it.

Butch preferred extremely profitable robberies that were often considered to be some of the most daring affairs ever recorded and often times these robberies had to be executed in broad daylight in the midst of many people.

So look at what Butch would do next: train his horses, target shooting, and carefully study the job site.

In other words practice, train and learn. So how does this compare to our real estate business. Well, for one, most people in this business are not professionals.

Most people in this business are struggling and are not making any money. Most people in this business refuse to take the time, energy, and money to invest in themselves, to learn this business, and to get the results they originally set their sights on.

I’ve seen it for many years, people get excited when they go to a seminar, watch a webinar, or hear about how somebody made a ton of money in this business; but very few of them actually stick to this business and make any money.

Don’t let that be you!

Be the one who studies and finds a profitable niche like probate and finds an educator who cares about you. Whatever you do go out and get trained!

Ernie Vargas probate

This is a picture of me at Butch Cassidy’s childhood home.

Probate Pack Rat

Do you remember the picture I showed you in a previous blog post.

Pretty scary way of living right?

Remember how I told you that it’s not un-normal to find probate houses that are in this type of terrible disrepair?

Something else that you’ll often see in these homes is major clutter. Yup, the pack rat behavior.

Of course, not every single property that goes through probate is like this.

The point I’m getting at is look for an opportunity where there is a need and think about how you can fill that need. Therefore, be Mr. or Mrs. Service Provider to this estate and these heirs.

Let’s go over some of these methods in which you can be of “help”


If you’re an investor;

“Mr. or Mrs. Seller, I will buy the house “as-is” so that you do not have to lift a single finger and clean anything up. I will buy the house and I will be the one to worry about cleaning it up. “


If you’re an agent;

“I will manage the cleanup of this house so that you don’t have to worry about it Mr. or Mrs. Seller. (You can either pay for this expense out of your own pocket or you can bill this expense to escrow. Both are okay scenarios depending on the commission spread)


What if you’re only a real estate agent? Then I would suggest that you start networking with real estate investors that can be your buyers for these kinds of properties.


And what if you’re only a real estate investor? Then I would suggest that you network with real estate agents that have a major focus on probate.

In other words reach out to each other and build a bridge where you can both support each other.

Coincidentally I co-own a real estate brokerage.

There are times when my office will take that listing but there are other times where I have an opportunity to reward an agent for helping me. Sometimes there are opportunities where I can reach out to one of my students that is licensed and let him or her take that listing.

Listen I really want to help you.

One thing that makes me so different as a probate educator is that I am actually still active after many years in the business of buying and renovating houses, wholesaling, property management, plus co-owning a real estate brokerage.

If you really want to learn this niche then I suggest that you learn it from somebody who is not just talking about it but somebody who is actually doing it.

Take a look at my Probate Fundamentals course which is completely online and you can have access to immediately!

Click here to get plugged into “probate fundamentals” and start dominating your probate niche today!

To your success,

Ernie Vargas

P.S. To learn about our probate leads for Southern California and to sign up, click here

The subscription is $59 per 4 week period. No commitment, no sign up fee, no contract, no resell rights.

Subscribe for leads here

Hurricane in Los Angeles???

What, you may ask???

No, not a real true hurricane.

However, if you look at the picture below you’ll ask what happened? It looks like a hurricane went through here. It’s not uncommon for us to see houses that look like this almost every day when they go through probate.

It’s absolutely insane that somebody could live like this yet it happens every single day in America!

Now, I live in Los Angeles, California and this is a picture of a house that I just went to go see today. It is a probate property and it’s actually destroyed both inside and out.

Where you and I both come in, is that there’s actually a need for our service right here.


Check this out;

Probate property niche


The personal representative lives in San Francisco and the property is located down south in Los Angeles. The decedent a.k.a. the person who died lived in Oregon and the two adult sons live in Pennsylvania.    The attorney in charge of this estate also lives in Oregon. I live in Los Angeles and I understand probate.

I am here to help in whatever way the estate needs me to be of service.

In other words, it’s not always all about me! Yes, of course, I am in business to make money but I am also in business to be a professional and the service provider to this niche.

Believe me, word gets around and soon you will be known in your probate niche as the expert because you will go around helping people with your wealth of knowledge that you will gain in this niche of probate. You know that old saying; “What goes around comes around.”

My students and I have experienced that to be very true in our probate business.

Because I practice what I preach, my students and I often get phone calls from attorneys with referrals to properties. We also get calls from mortgage brokers, financial planners, accountants, CPAs, escrow officers, real estate agents, and the list goes on.

I hope you get the picture…. Remember it’s not all about us, it’s about helping other people; and through that process we will be rewarded.

Anyways, getting back to this property.

So does this kind of project scare you or excite you?

Personally these projects really excite me.

When it’s a house that’s been forgotten about like this one I envision the beauty that it will be when I’m done with it! (I’ll keep you posted on my progress.)

However, it’s not mine yet because the executor still needs to make up his mind as to what he is going to do. He shared with me that as he sees it, he’s got two options.

One, is to sell it directly to me at a discount, take his money, and be done with it.

Two, is list this house and try to take advantage of the market conditions and maximize his earnings.

If he chooses to list the house with a real estate agent then I will refer him the best person for the job.

I’m actually happy to do that because I love rewarding my real estate agents with business just as they are always on the lookout to help me.

Remember, this industry is a people business that requires us to look out for each other as a family if you will. Some of these opportunities will be for me and some are for you or the next guy or gal.

That’s what I love so much about this niche in probate, there is always enough for everybody.