This site was instrumental in getting me started, so I guess now it's my turn to pay it forward. Here are some of the things that put me on the fast track to success in this field. I got my first REO assignment in Oct 2007. Today, I own my own office and employ 3 other people, not including the agents. I know that the following works. It's what I did.
#1: Follow your local foreclosure sale. If you do that religiously, you will find opportunities. Small and medium sized banks are one angle. Sometimes you can just call the smaller fish up out of the blue and get their business. I've done that successfully a number of times. One of those calls resulted in a client that has sent me over 200k in commissions over the years. In another instance, I noticed that some company called "xyz8 something or other trust" (obviously not their real name) was taking back a lot of properties at my local sheriff sale. I researched them, figured out who serviced their assets and came up with a plan to get into their agent network. The plan didn't really work, but I managed to get my foot in the door anyway. That was 8-9 months ago. Now I have 10 assets with them, having already closed a couple. That's a current example, but I did the same thing early on with Wells Fargo. They were my very first client and I still sell their properties.
#2: Follow industry trends. Know who is selling NPL's and who is buying them. NPL's turn into REO. Surf your MLS and local public records and find out as much as you can about the sellers of REO. Then find out how you can get their business. Some sellers have websites. There's tons of information out there. Research it.
#3: Use the information gleaned from #1 and #2 to focus your energies on the clients that have business where you are. Register with res.net and equator, of course. But to get business from many servicers, you often need to be on their approved vendor list. Sometimes they make it easy to register, sometimes not. Sometimes they use different platforms - there's quite a few smaller ones out there. I use 9 or 10. Find out. ask questions. Be a nudge.
#4: Work on developing your REO skills. The best way to do that is to do BPO's. Lots of them. As many as you can stand. But it's important to focus on the ones that matter - The second opinions on vacant REO properties. They rarely lead to listings, but it's how you can cut your teeth on doing accurate valuations on all kinds of properties in all kinds of conditions. But the most important part is to go back later and check how you did. The first few I did, I was terrible. It was an eye-opener to see how far off I was at first. But I learned.
#5: Develop relationships with other REO agents. If you're doing 2nd opinion interiors, you'll come into contact with established REO agents sooner or later. Or, if you sell their properties - same thing. They tend to be busy folks, but you'd be surprised how helpful they can be. For one thing, you might encounter one who is looking for a protege. That's how I found my mentor. The experience that you can gain by working in collaboration with an established local REO agent simply can't be duplicated any other way.
#6: Do a market analysis - and relocate if necessary. That's what Walmart or Target or any other serious business does. They analyze 2 things. Where are the customers? Where is the competition? In the REO world, the "customers" are the foreclosures. You want to be close to lots of foreclosures, but far away from the competition. In addition, you want a good mix of "customers". You want both upscale and downscale. When I did this analysis early in my career, I discovered that almost all of the major REO brokers in my market were across town from my house. And yet I was within a couple miles of a hardscrabble suburban town. So I didn't have to relocate because I was already in an excellent location. But it was important to know that. By the way, regular agents never do this. They don't have to. But an aspiring REO agent does. When some servicer is looking for an agent, and you're the only one who is nearby, your odds of getting the business go up. (see also #9 below)
#7: Look into the national organizations for REO agents. Two that I belong to and are worthwhile are NRBA and DIL (Default Industry Leaders). There are also conferences. Those are expensive. some people swear by them, but to me they're optional. I go to them occasionally, but never unless I have a specific plan in mind. For example, the reason I went to one conference last year was specifically to get my foot in the door with "xyz8 something or other trust" that I mentioned in #1 above - They were presenting at the conference. I failed in that effort, but at least I got the information I needed to get my foot in the door later on.
#8: Do short sales. Sell other agents' REOs. Find investors and work with them. These activities will not do anything directly to get you REO business. They're more in the category of building REO-related skills. The short sale departments are usually completely different from REO, for example. But they will familiarize you with working with bureaucracies. All of this will be good experience that might help you to impress in 2 situations that I can think of - a) when you're putting together a formal application (for those clients that require a formal process), or b) when you get your lucky break with a local REO agent (as in #5 above).
#9: Brand yourself correctly. Put yourself in an Asset manager's shoes for a moment. You have an asset to assign. There are two agents within 1 mile. One of them is John Smith with Century 21. The other is Joe Jones with Acme REO Specialists. Who are you more likely to hire?
#10: Before you do any of these things, do a self evaluation. Are you organized? Can you handle being pulled in many different directions all at once? Do you handle stress well? How are your writing skills? Are they excellent? Are you willing to work until midnight (or whenever), just to meet some arbitrary deadline? (BPO's can help you find out about that one.) Can you do that day after day and on Saturday and Sunday also? (Because when you start succeeding, you won't have the help that you need until you make the time to find someone.) Are you willing to go do an inspection on a crummy house in the worst neighborhood? Will you have a problem knocking on some stranger's door and informing them that they've lost their home?
I did everything above, except #10. I didn't have a choice on that one. I found out along the way. Fortunately, the answers were satisfactory. I know that I've been very lucky in this. But I also know that I've worked really hard to make the most of my luck. Good luck to you with your efforts.