#50 Short Sale and How It’s Done with Nicole Espinosa
Nicole has been negotiating short sales in the DFW and Houston market since 2011 and launched her company “The Short Sale Queen” in 2019 allowing her team to process short sales nationwide.
She has been featured on several real estate panels, podcasts, and TV segments. She also teaches classes on short sales to other brokerages, title companies and realtor associations. Nicole’s extensive knowledge in distressed properties has made her the market expert when dealing with difficult transactions.
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Welcome to the real estate masters podcast, where we interview the top names in the real estate game. If you wanna grow your real estate business, see more podcast or get free resources, go to www.remcommunity.com. The only podcast that allows you to directly connect with the guests in many of the highest level names in real estate game, you are in for a treat with our next guest. Do me a favor, subscribe to the podcast, leave us a review, and don’t forget to go to REM community.com to connect with some of the highest level real estate professionals in United States through our community and through our high level masterminds. Let’s go
Welcome to today’s show as usual, we have an unbelievable guest, Nicole Espinoza, the short sale. I don’t know if we call her queen. I think yeah. Short sale queen is, is, uh, her, uh, her unofficial title. I would, I would say so Nicole’s been doing short sales a long time. Um, her and I just had a conversation a little bit, little bit ago before I hit record of like our short sales really around. And it sounds like they are, and Nicole is gonna tell us why and how she’s doing ’em and how she could potentially help you guys. So, Nicole, thanks for coming and sharing your short sales story.
Absolutely. Thanks for having me excited to be here.
Yeah, so like I just said a little bit ago that, you know, when, when I saw short sales, um, I thought to myself, man, back in oh 08 09 10, I can’t remember the exact years. There was about a three year stint where I was doing a ton of short sales. And then obviously that game faded out eventually as the market became hotter and, you know, the, the, the defaults and the foreclosures just weren’t as prevalent. So let’s start with your backstory. You started about that far ago, you know, 2010 or so I, through 2011, I think is when you started. So first of all, share your backstory and how you got into short sales.
Yeah, absolutely. So, um, it, you know, obviously I didn’t wake up one day and been like, this is what I wanna specialize in. Right. So my, my first experience with real estate was actually working with asset managers in 2008. Um, when four foreclosures were in all time high, um, and I was working with the REO listings, which are the foreclosure listings. And so I was managing, I mean, we had at the time, you know, over 150 orders or listings a month that we would have to, you know, deal with evictions and have to deal with listing them and getting the values and that whole process us. Um, so it was complete chaos because, um, I remember at the time they would just send you the legal description. They’re like, I have no idea what’s even going on with this property. We just foreclosed on them, figure it out.
Right. So understanding how the banks worked and operated, um, was huge. And that really laid the foundation for what we do today. And I did it for about two years and it was the worst job that I’ve ever had, right? Like there was deadlines of like midnight and the banks weren’t even there, but you had to turn everything in and it’s a completely different ballgame when the bank is your client as opposed to negotiating with the bank. So when I, when I got out of doing, uh, working with the asset managers and REO, I had my license and of course the first listing that I got, I was so excited. You know, I’m hungry, I’m a new agent. And it comes to find out that they couldn’t afford to sell it. So I’m like talking to all the agents in my office and I’m like, Hey, what do I do?
He owes too much, but you know, he wants to sell. And I, in my mind, I’d already like the commission, right? Like most new agents and, or new people that do get deals. They’re like, Hey, you know, I, I got this deal and I, so I just figured it out. Like I called the bank at the time and I was like, they’re telling, everyone’s telling me to run away from ’em. And I called the bank at the time and I was on the phone for like an hour and a half. And just asking every question like, okay, is this possible? Like, what do I do? I submit this. And that’s literally how I started my first short sale. And I realized really quickly that not only was there a lack of knowledge when it comes to this niche in the industry, but most people ran away from them.
Most people don’t understand. And they’re like, Hey, let’s just, don’t even waste your time. So for me, the way I think is just how can we create a solution, right? How can we, and that’s all real estate is like, how can you be a solution provider for, you know, potential clients and things like that. And so at the time, you know, I just started, um, working with sellers that were distressed. I started, uh, developing my process years later. Um, I started teaching classes on it to agents and then acquisi teams like investment companies. Um, and then so locally in the DFW area, when people would be on social media, they would say, Hey, talk to Nicole. She’s the queen of short sales, or she’s a short sell queen. And so that’s kind of how I got the, the nickname. And then I branded the Short Sale queen, um, in 2019. So we’ve been doing it ever since.
Awesome. It sounds like your journey started like mine. Um, when I started doing short sales, people didn’t wanna take ’em on, I was getting referrals from agents, created a small team to, to negotiate the short sales. Uh, and we were doing, uh, I don’t know, 20 to 30 negotiations at a time, which is small time. It sounds like compared to what you’re doing, cuz you guys have no
That’s, that’s a lot. Absolutely.
Yeah. But you guys, you guys were doing, you know, a hundred plus us at a time, which is, which is amazing. So tell us how you work. Um, one of the things that kind of blew me away is you said you you’re, you’re a hundred percent referral based. So when people have a deal that they don’t want to do, they send it to you. Tell us a little bit about that process and how you work with, uh, agents and investors on that side of it to help them complete a short sale without them having to get involved.
Absolutely. So, um, you know, being a hundred percent referral in general is extremely difficult, right? Like it took years and years, um, to be able to get our phone, to ring, to get people, to trust us. Cause it’s all reputation, right? As, as quick as you can get, there is as quick as you can lose it. So, um, we pride ourselves on, on a basic concept. Are you ready? We do what we say we’re gonna do. So we, if you, if you send something over to us and we tell you we’re gonna handle it, you’re, you’re gonna get updated every step of the way you’re gonna know what’s going on and we’re gonna call and we’re and we’re gonna follow through, uh, one of my biggest pet peeves in this industry is that people spend so much time and energy trying to get the referal, but, or the business, but then they don’t do anything to keep it.
Right. And so for me, I was like, I need to create a system where if, if people are gonna send business to us, um, that they feel like, Hey, we’re on Nicole and are on it. Right. So what we did was with so two different things, so real estate investors, you know, of course when you’re, when you’re an investor, you’re focused on what equity, right? High equity, that’s all you’re focused on. If the deal doesn’t make sense, you’re moving on to the next lead, right. But we know how expensive it is to get these leads. So to finally get someone on the phone to get, first of all, get good data and then get someone on the phone and build rapport and then get them to wanna sell to you. And the worst thing that you can do is have this opportunity and then just throw it away because they owe too much, right?
So it’s, it’s a perfect synergy with, uh, real estate investors because they’re already thrown away the lead. Why wouldn’t partner with us, refer it to us. We do all the negotiations and we can now help negotiate your offer and represent that homeowner. And then if you don’t wanna buy it, cause we work with a lot of wholesalers that don’t wanna close on it. We pay you for the lead. So either way your costs per lead goes down significantly because now you’re able to recuperate all of these dead leads that you would’ve walked away away from. Right. And we handle everything we handle, you know, the like literally you’re just referring it over. You’re saying, Hey, you know, work with my team that does short sales. And then from then on, you know, that’s our client. So that’s how we work with real estate investors, giving them more opportunities to purchase these properties at a discount and then real estate, um, agents, you know, we have so much training.
We have so many things that we can teach agents since there’s not a lot of education. We’re super passionate about that because, um, like I said earlier, this was the one thing, the one niche in our industry that nobody talks about, no one understands even on a national level, there’s no education when it comes to this. And if it is, it’s the most basic, unrelevant like, let me give you the definition. And that’s pretty much it. Um, so we do a lot of education for real estate agents, as well as real estate investors. Um, and then real realtors, they refer over their clients to us cause they know that they’re gonna get taken care of.
So again, the elephant in the room is okay, the market’s hot. How are their properties? You can negotiate short sales on when, if you bought it in the last year, the property’s probably appreciated 10%, maybe even 20%. Yeah. Um, since people bought it. Um, so tell us a little bit about that. What’s the typical deal you, you work with and um, just kind of dive into that a little bit so, so we can understand that better.
Absolutely. So of course, when I get this all the time, right? Especially on YouTube, people are like, are you crazy? This is an amazing market. But what you have to understand is that the market really does not have a huge influence or a huge play when it comes to someone’s personal financial situation. So someone can easily be upside down if they’re doing loan modifications. If they’ve been behind for a couple years, if they’ve done forbearance, let let’s talk about, um, something recent, right? So we went through a pandemic and people have not been paying for over a year, right. Almost coming up on, on two years that people have been behind and that entire balance is still due. So once they come out of forbearance, they go right into a loan modification, which basically they’re asking for assistance to modify the terms of the loan, but they’re not forgiving anything.
And so the taxes, the escrow, the fees, all of that starts accumulating. And that balance goes up significantly. The market can appreciate, I mean, it’s crazy, right? The market has been absolutely crazy, but it’s never gonna appreciate the amount that the, the loan goes up. So I’ll give you an example. We had an, I’m always posting like these crazy payoffs, just so for, for people to ask me questions like that so they can kind of see it. Um, there was a client that, um, bought a property three years ago and she owed 300,000 and we just got her payoff back and it’s 420,000.
So for it to increase that much, there’s no way that the market, and not only that you think about it, if they’re not paying their mortgage, they’re not upkeeping the house. They’re not maintaining it. They’re not only behind on their mortgage. They’re behind on HOA, they’re behind on their taxes, they’re behind on their second lean. So it adds up very quickly. And yes, there are people that we’ve been able to sell the property where they didn’t have to go through a short sale because the market was so great that, you know, we were, they were able to break even and any other market, they would’ve had to do a short sale. So there are people like that, but a huge majority drag it out as long as they can. Like, we have people that are going to be fighting with the bank until next year for the next couple years and their balance keeps increasing. So we’re gonna see so many more short sells in the next couple years. Um, because of that.
Amazing. Yeah. That’s gonna be good for your business. It sounds like, especially with like the moratoriums and you know, that kind of thing, right. That’s where absolutely. That’s where it’s adding up. People are thinking, oh, I, I don’t have to make my payment, but they don’t realize is how big their balance is gonna be 6, 12, 18 months down the road. When you know, the banks finally say, Hey, let’s, let’s get something worked out. You need to start making payments. Right.
And they never have money saved. Right. So we work with people that are like five to 10 years behind and they never have five to 10 years of mortgage payment saved. They’re still as broke if not, you know, even in a worse situation than they were before.
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So 11 markets tell us what markets you’re in right now.
So we are in 13 states. So it’s a lot, um, our primary markets where we do the most is Florida, Texas, New Jersey. Um, we have a lot in California. Um, we have partners all over the country. So people that have gone through our mentorship program that we’re starting to like refer out. Those are our primary markets. Um, we are in other markets where we partner with investors and agents, if it makes sense. Um, but it’s a long list. Those are our main markets.
So let’s say, okay, I live in San Diego, let’s say I have a deal here. I come across. They’re behind on payments. They, they, they owe too much. I send them to you tell us about the whole process behind it. You list it, negotiate. Do you do the whole process kind of go through that part of it?
Yeah, absolutely. So you’re an investor. So if you’re like, Hey, I’ve got this deal. Um, you refer to us, we pre-qualify them. So we make sure that, you know, we have all the information up front. My biggest like tagline, I always say is we always try to be proactive instead of reactive. Right? So if we take this on, we’re closing it. We’re gonna make sure that we can actually close it and negotiate on your behalf as well as the sellers. Um, so we’ll get all the information we need so we can get a complete short sale packet. And then we, we work with you on what your offer is so that we can, um, send in your offer with the short sale paperwork. Um, at that point we don’t need to list it because already have your offer. So we’re negotiating your offer with the bank.
The bank is gonna order a third party appraisal. So at the end of the day, the bank is gonna determine how much they’re willing to accept for the property. And you’ve done short sales. So you know that a little bit about that process where, um, that’s where the negotiations come into play, right? So when the, when the appraisal comes out, like if you’re sending this to us, we’ll work with you. Like, Hey, give me everything that you have, contractor bids, um, anything that you have so we can help justify your offer, right? In order to, um, negotiate at a discount at the end of the day, if the property is distressed and it, and it won’t qualify for, for financing and investor has to buy it. Right. And, and we have to justify a discount because you have to make money. That’s what we do. We try to get the appraisal down, um, as low as possible. Um, and then the banks, depending on what type of loan it is, they’ll accept a certain percentage. So for example, um, FJ, FJ loans will accept 88% conventional it’s negotiable. We’ve gotten it down as, as low as 80% of that as is value. So every week you’re gonna get an update from the office. So every Monday, the seller, the investor, the person that referred it to us, everybody gets an update. So you’ll know every step of the way, kind of where we’re at.
Awesome. Now does the bank require for it to be listed on the MLS?
So the, so there are some lenders that do require that if that’s the case, then you know, we will put xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxit on the market. If we’re already under contract with you, then you know, it’s gonna go pending. Um, but at the end of the day, like I said, your offer is the one we’re negotiating. So you’ll have the first ride refusal. If you come back and you’re like, Hey, this doesn’t make sense. Cuz not every deal, not every deal’s a deal. Right. So there’s gonna be some properties that are in great condition that, but it’s the homeowner that’s distressed, not the house. Right. So in those situations then yes, we will list it and then we pay you, um, for the lead.
Okay. And then from a standpoint of, let’s say, so if I send a deal to you and I’m an investor, obviously I will, um, I will put a contract in, submit an offer. You negotiate it. But if I’m an agent, I just wanna refer it to you. How do you work with them? You said you pay them for the lead and then you take it and you list it. Is that correct?
Correct. So we’ll give them 25% of whatever we make and then they’ll still get updates. And that’s the best part because with realtors, they know that their client’s being taken care of, they’re getting a referral fee and that way they can keep that business. They can still be like the expert, like, Hey, I know someone and that helps them, you know, keep that referral business for them. Cause that came from, you know, their clients. Um, but yes, we give them 25% of whatever we make and we also pay the investor for the lead if they don’t purchase it. So either way, you know, the goal of course is for the investor. Right. Cause that’s where the real money is. But if you don’t wanna buy it or you can’t, then at least you’ll get compensated, you know, for the lead that, that you would’ve walked away from, you know? Anyways.
Gotcha. Fantastic. So tell us about, so obviously the process, I mean, you know, it is a lot to negotiate a short sale. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you miss a piece they’re gonna come back to really it’s it, it becomes harder. Right. Um, so tell us how you work. So obviously you take leads and then you will work those however you work ’em whether it’s negotiate with, for the investor or, um, negotiate for the agent, you know, list the property and that kind of thing. Yeah. Tell us how you work from a standpoint of, with the average person. Are you, um, do you, do you teach people how to do this themselves so they can do it themselves? Or are you more just, Hey, send the deal to me and I’ll work it or, you know, do you kind of work both sides of that?
So we do both honestly, um, I’ve never asked for business my entire career. Right? Cause at the end of the day, I feel like if I’m always how I built my brain was I would like, Hey, use me as a resource because I would rather, I, I feel like I would rather have you help the homeowner and make sure that you, they don’t get foreclosed on, um, and you know, help you as much as I can, but here’s the thing. Most people don’t wanna do it. Right. So at the end of the day, if you, if you don’t wanna process it, we’re here. Like we’re always here. If you do and you wanna learn, then we can absolutely teach you. And so we have, we are in the education space. So we do have a mentorship program. Like we have a bootcamp that’s a four week bootcamp for realtors and investors.
Um, and it, it helps tremendously, even if it’s like, let’s just say, you know, obviously realtors so that they can represent the client, but with investors, because I used to go and teach acquisition teams all the time on how to make better calls, right? Because if you understand what the homeowner, the, the homeowners that are in pre foreclosure, if you understand the objections of like, Hey, I wanna keep my house, which is the biggest one, right? Um, they need to work with you. They don’t want to work with you, you, but they’re heavily solicited by everyone and their mother. And so how can they trust you? Right. And so what I always teach is to lead with value. Like if you want to get that homeowner on board, it it’s gonna be so much easier when you are a resource for them and you start answering their questions and inform them of, Hey, this is the process.
No, one’s gonna explain this to you, but let me explain your options. Right. It doesn’t make sense, sense for you to keep the house because you can’t afford it. So we don’t want you to end up in foreclosure because you are, you know, trying to drag this out or whatever. Let’s look at the bigger picture. And so I teach, you know, agents and investors, how to make better phone calls, how to build rapport, not to be like that salesperson. That’s just trying to close the deal and, and lead with, Hey, you know, I can close in 30, um, in two weeks or I have cash, you know, close in seven days. And that’s like the worst thing you can tell someone that’s in more closure because they’re like, no, I don’t wanna close in seven days. I have nowhere to go. Right. And so, uh, we, we, we are heavy in the education space. We wrote, um, the book, um, how to master short sales. So it’s a, it’s a manual and we, we literally just gave it all away. Right. We explain everything you need to know in that book. Um, so we do a lot of, of, of teaching and of course, YouTube, I do free content on there, uh, for agents and investors.
Awesome. So how long does someone have to be behind on their payments in order to be able to, uh, be qualified for a short sale? Cause back in the day it used to be 90 days. Uh, is it still 90 days? They have to be behind before the bank will, uh, will negotiate.
It’s actually, excuse me, as long as they’re behind. So it can be as, as little as 30 days. Um, so there’s no requirement. Um, and FJ is the only one with the requirement and they have to be at least 30 days behind before you could actually close on it.
Wow. There’s 30, 30 days. I’m just thinking. So I, I work with a lot of real estate investors around the country. I’ve got a TV program and mastermind and all that kind of stuff. So I’m, I’m thinking if we presented this to them, if they would be able to utilize you and your services as our absolutely. As, as investors we’re always looking at, okay. How can we do a deal that we normally would’ve been able to do? Just like, I think you kind of mentioned that a little bit ago, um, on the agent side. Um, so I think this is something we should present to, uh, and this is a side conversation, but I’m just kind of thinking out loud that we should present this to, to the real estate investors I would work with. Cause I feel like, yeah.
I mean, we’re always just another tool in your toolbox, right? Like all, all real estate is, is how can I provide a solution? Like if you can be that person that has a solution for every problem, you are the most valuable and you will get the most deals. Right? So if you can figure out if I, if I can’t do it myself, who can I connect with that can do it. You’re gonna make more money. You’re gonna help more people. And overall you’re gonna do more business.
Awesome. Fantastic. What are some biggest lessons you’ve learned? Like what are the things throughout the last 11 years doing short sales, um, that you’ve learned, um, that someone you think could take value out of?
Um, I think one of my biggest lessons, especially with what we do right with new negotiations is that if you’re getting a no, if someone’s saying that they can’t do it, you’re either talking to the wrong person. Um, you know, or you’re not asking the right questions. And I think that’s huge. I think you could apply that to every area of life. Right. Because there are some people that just think, like, I can’t tell you how many times I hear, oh, um, let’s just say bank of America, right. Bank of America won’t do this. They won’t, they won’t do short sales or they won’t negotiate or this is what they’ll take. And I’m like, no, that’s not how that works. Um, they absolutely will. You just didn’t ask, talk to the right person or you didn’t ask the right questions to get you where you needed to go.
And that is a, that you can apply to talking to sellers when you’re cold calling, you can talk, you can apply that to any just problems in general, because you need to get past the people that are just like, absolutely not. I can’t think outside the box. I can’t think about of a solution. I’d rather just focus on no, you know, this is the problem. Um, and then the other thing is just the tenacity and consistency, right? Like with what we do, of course, of course, because this is like my Mo I’ve gotta do everything. That’s like so hard. Right. I, I couldn’t have just done traditional real estate that was, you know, looked cute and whatever, like it’s, you have to put everything into it. Like I highly focused on this one thing. And I think a lot of people get into the business and they’re like, they see all of these shiny objects, right.
Where sales people and like a D D like, I’m excited about this. And then, oh, I’m excited about this. And they never really gain traction because they’re all over the place. And so what does that mean? That means your brand is all over the place. And if so, can’t associate you with your brand, you didn’t do it. Right. So I think the biggest thing is just being consistent and going all in with your vision and, you know, not, you know, even when it’s not sexy, right. Even when it’s hard, even when it’s redundant, even, I mean, just all the time. And I think that is, you know, people don’t put enough, um, credibility towards just that consistency and people say it all the time. So it’s kind of like an overused word, but it’s honestly how we got here.
Yeah. No, definitely good advice. Good advice for sure. So, one thing I’ll mention, I, I just remembered something I used to teach cuz I did short sale classes too. Back in the day. I remember one thing I would teach is, you know, the, the question that most people would have is why would banks take a 20%, 30%, 40% hit off of what is owed or what the value is? You know, whatever the ratios are. Yeah. And one thing people don’t understand is one, um, bad debt looks bad on their books, right? If someone is 30, 60, 90 days, the further behind they are the worse it looks. If I remember correctly and then they also have to keep reserves from their bad debt. If I remember if I remember correctly, if they have a hundred thousand dollars in bad debt, they have to carry three times in reserves or something of that nature. I don’t know if you know that number. Um, so that makes them carry more cash on hand that does nothing as opposed to being able to lend. So not only are they not making money on this, this money, but they’re also not making on money. They have to keep in reserves per the federal reserve to make sure that they can pay those bad debts back if, if they need to. Right.
And you also have to remember too, in addition to that, that at the end of the day, the bank is only going to get what the house is worth, right? And so at the end of the day, what are they gonna do? They’re going to spend money on a foreclosure attorney. They’re gonna spend money taking the asset, which is the house back. They’re going to have to maintain the property. They’re gonna be out even more money where, where they haven’t been receiving thing. So all they’re doing is paying a crap ton of money to get market value. So if they think, Hey, if it’s, you know, the seller is maintaining the home they’re required during the short sale, they’re required to cooperate. So they’re not going to destroy the house. Right. And foreclosure, they don’t care, right. They they’re gonna do whatever. So they’re really gonna make more money during a short sell than they would in a foreclosure.
Um, they’re gonna net more. And so as long as, as you’re packaging it, that way to the bank, they’re always gonna take a loss. It’s when they think that they have a better chance to make more money in a foreclosure sale, that’s when you are not negotiating correctly, you’re not showing why this is a better deal. That’s when you get it denied. That’s when they come back and you have all these private investors, like conventional loans where people are like, Hey, they, they just refuse to take a loss. Well, it’s because they did their numbers and they think that they’re gonna make more money in a foreclosure. So that’s why they agree to take that loss.
Yeah. Fantastic. Well, Hey Nicole, I love blue oceans. This is a blue ocean. This is something that I don’t hear many people talking about. I talk with hundreds of real estate investors every single month. Uh, and none of them mentioned short sales back 10, 10 plus years ago. That was the big buzz, you know, short sales negotiating, you know, that kind of thing. So it’s really cool that you carved out this niche and being able to do it, been able to do it for so long. And it sounds like this is a good time for you to, uh, to be in this business because the moratorium and people falling behind on their payments and, you know, losing their job with COVID and all that kind of stuff. It just seems like a really good time to be in this space. So if someone wants to get a hold of you to either maybe hear about your training, or if they have a property they wanna refer you, can you give ’em some info on how to get in touch with you?
Yeah, absolutely. So you can always head to our website. It’s the THG SS queen.com. Um, it has, you know, where you can refer a lead as well as information about our classes and our education. And then you can always head to YouTube. We have free content if you’re just starting or if you’re just wanting to learn and, and kind of like dive into it. Um, and YouTube is the short cell queen. So you guys can head there and it has our information as well.
All right, fantastic. As we wrap up any last thoughts before we, um, before we wrap up,
Um, just that, you know, especially with everything that’s coming up, if you guys that are listening, if you guys have questions, even if it’s on deals that don’t involve us, we always pride ourselves on being a resource for the community. So you’re always welcome to call the office, um, pick our brains and, um, see if we can help in any way, add value to your business.
Awesome. Fantastic. Thanks for your time, Nicole. Hopefully people reach out to you to learn more about short sales, if they want to take advantage of this opportunity, and then also bring you deals that they normally would not have been able to do because there’s too much owed on the property. So thanks again. Thanks having. Yep. Thanks again, Nicole. We’ll talk soon.
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