- About Jeff Latham [3:58]
- Jeff’s experience as a Realtor during the 2008 crash [7:42]
- Why working on yourself is so important [12:08]
- Jeff’s take on masterminds, self-development, and goals [14:06]
- Jeff’s advice to new real estate agents and investors [19:04]
- Consumers’ need for authentic agents [21:11]
- Ancillary businesses that help Jeff solve clients’ problems [25:47]
- Jeff’s sales stats [27:17]
- Jeff’s advice on building a business [27:54]
- How to break through your goals.
- Plus so much more.
- Grow Your Real Estate Profits with Our Agent Success Toolbox
- Get 6 Steps to 7 Figures by Pat Hiban for FREE
- Get Tribe of Millionaires by Pat Hiban and David Osborn for FREE
- The Illusion of Money by Kyle Cease
- The Latham Realty Unlimited, Inc Team
- Jeff’s Facebook
- Jeff’s Twitter
- Jeff’s LinkedIn
Aaron: Rockstar Nation, this is Aaron Amuchastegui. Today, I get to interview my good friend, Jeff Latham. My very first Ironman I have ever done, I did with Jeff. He does all sorts of crazy stuff. First met him at an Ironman training camp that we held at our house. After that, we realized we had so much in common when it came with real estate, and life skills, and everything that we’ve been trying to build.
I’m super excited to talk to Jeff today because he’s not just a real estate agent, when you get to see what he’s doing on social media. He is a one-stop-shop. He says, “I’ll help you sell your house or I’ll your house or I’ll build you a house, or we’ll flip it with you.” He has so many different avenues that he does to bring people in.
Even just from social media, I’ve seen people reach back out to him and say, “Hey, will you buy my house?” He’s actually getting so many leads and stuff doing that. Excited to hear all of the different stuff today that he’s going to be telling us. Jeff, hey. How are you, and where are you at today? What are you doing?
Jeff: [chuckles] How you doing, Aaron?
Aaron: Good to see you buddy.
Jeff: Appreciate you having me on this podcast. What am I doing? I’m out driving around, getting ready to go to the dump. I’m dump man today. I’ll show you my– Got my big trailer. I’m in my big truck.
Aaron: That is awesome. Jeff is driving his own truck today.
Aaron: He’s got the iMAC dump trailer behind him, the toys the boys like to play with and just an example of doing everything. What city are you in today?
Jeff: Right now, I’m in Skagit County right outside of Malvern in Washington. It’s halfway in between Seattle and Canada.
Aaron: Awesome. Pacific Northwest up there, beautiful country. I’ve seen the pictures of your place up there. It’s like you’ve got views forever.
Jeff: We love it. It’s got its country up here. Farmlands, people look you in the eye, shake your hands, say, hi.
Aaron: Freaking awesome, man.
Jeff: It’s like Texas. [laughs]
Aaron: Yes, like another version but better views, for sure. Tell us, when did you become a real estate agent?
Jeff: Oh, boy. I think I started selling real estate in 2002. I was 22 years old, and yes, grew from there. What’s that? 18 years ago?
Aaron: Why did you decide to get into real estate so young at 22? I guess that explains why you’re crushing so much, but why were you interested in real estate to start with?
Jeff: I was in college. I was going to Everett Community College, and this teacher– I think her name is Mrs. Maddie or something like that. Her name is Maddie, and is in class called Study Skills. I didn’t know why I was going to college, I just knew I had to go for something. The first day in there, she says, “I don’t teach for the money. I teach because I love it. If I wanted to make money, I would sell real estate.”
That was a light-bulb moment for me because my mom sold real estate for 10 years prior to that. I went home and told my mom, “I’m dropping out of college. I must sell real estate.” She did her best to talk me out of it to protect me because she knows how rough the business can be, and like mothers should do. The next day, I dropped out of college, and got my license.
My part-time job of selling real estate income exceeded my career of stocking at Albertsons. I had to make that transition and just went all in about two years later, maybe a year-and-a-half later.
Aaron: You were doing two jobs at the same time. It was like you had a steady income, but then you would also do some deals and get some commissions that way. What was the big moment for you that you just decided like, “Hey, I don’t this, too. This isn’t a side gig. This is my career.”
Jeff: When the income exceeded the money at Albertsons. My mom always told me, “It’s very important to have your benefits, and your medical, and your dental, and a pension.” For a while there, I thought that was really important, and then I just started seeing my income supersede the income at Albertsons. I was topped out making $18 an hour. Back in 2002, that was really good money. From there, I just saw that it was actually costing me money to have a job, so I had to make that transition and then I went for it.
Aaron: You made the transition over. Do you remember how many deals you did your first year, or your first couple of years?
Jeff: My first year, I did probably 2, and then the next year 5, and then 15, and then, on up to about 37 a year on my own before Armageddon happened in 2008. Then, went through that and dropped down about 8 deals a year, and hired my first coach, and then bounced up to 20, and then 55, 105, all the way on up to 263 in 2013. We’ve just been averaging about a couple of hundred a year since.
Aaron: You talked about Armageddon back in 2008, 2009. We had the real estate crash. 2005, everybody is doing a ton of deals, everybody that’s in real estate looks like a genius. A lot of our listeners out there, and I think a lot the real estate agents out there right now, didn’t do real estate during the crash. They got into to it after that last recovery and saw that.
What was that transition like, or what did you see as a difference? 2005, how many deals did you do, and then all of a sudden, when did you realize like, “Whoa, there’s a problem” this huge shift had happened? The rest of it was gradual. It was taking longer and longer, and then foreclosures were happening, but we were homebuilder at the time. We saw sales were dragging on, but we still had sales from nine months ago that we were closing. What was that like during that time? Was there a moment where you were like, “Oh, crap. It’s not working anymore”? Most people quit real estate then, and it doesn’t sound like you did quit.
Jeff: I remember it vividly. The stock market, every day, it was just dropping 500 points a day, boom, boom, boom. Not in what we’re experiencing now. There came a point where it hit about what? 9,000 or 8,500, and then it’s just like that shift happened, and everything just stalled, like when the tide changes in the ocean. Nothing was moving, no matter how hard you push. Everything just stopped. That’s when I had to get resourceful. Fortunately, I had a home equity line-of-credit and I can ride that out along with having to short-sell my home, and get strategic to make it through. It took a little bit to get through that.
I hired my first coach. I learned how to market, and then just to sell homes to people that didn’t know me, and position myself as the guy that had the bank-owned properties. Even though I didn’t have a relationship with asset managers, I was able to market myself through just bank-owned properties with pictures and maps. I would advertise those on Craigslist. People would reach out to me as the guy with the bank-owned properties. I had started selling homes again. I got pretty busy, and we made it through it.
There’s a year-and-a-half, two years where it wasn’t interesting. I almost– I don’t want to say helpless, but there was challenges prior to my personal development, and then I came through. There’s a gift in it, I see.
Maybe it shouldn’t be called Armageddon, maybe it should be called the gift because after making it through that, I had to short-sell my home, and negotiate with credit-card companies, and go through all that stuff and lose some things. I realized none of that stuff really mattered, the only thing that matters is your relationships with your friends, and your family, and your wife, and your children. This is just stuff, and you can rebuild it.
A lot of people got burnt, and they went somewhere safe to Boeing or working for somebody. It made me more bold because I’m not afraid of it. I don’t want to go back there, but I’m not afraid to lose.
Aaron: I don’t want to do those resets ever again with the– But every one of those times, we pushed through. In 2008, 2009, we were homebuilder, and then we got put out of business. We tried 9 or 10 businesses before we discovered that our niche was going to be buying houses on the courthouse steps because we couldn’t get those listings and we couldn’t get those agents to talk to us. Back in 2012, 2013, we had to push through and do that again, where we got put out of business because all of a sudden, everybody was at the courthouse steps. We had to change our brand around and it took some time, but each one of those times we pushed through, it just helps me know– It helps us know no matter what happens, you have that grit that if something crazy happens, you’ll find a solution. You’ll find that widget and do it like you’ve survived it. Did you actually have the bank-owned listings or-
Aaron: -on Craigslist, you just got to say like, “Hey, do you–,” People were interested in bank-owned and– Tell me about that a little bit.
Jeff: Well, that was the hot button. Bank-owned properties, because they were selling for 40 cents on the dollar. I would just run ads of a free list of bank-owned properties with pictures and maps, and then people would sign up on my websites and reach out to me. I’d meet them, get the commitment and I go sell them a home. Usually, they wouldn’t even buy a bank-owned property, they would just go buy something else.
Aaron: Do you still do any of that now? Like, “Hey, get a free list of properties that are on the market” and capture contacts that way?
Jeff: A little bit. We do just a lot of marketing through our various lead sources, through pay-per-click advertising, social media, with and Commissions Inc, and stuff like that. We generate a lot of leads, but not as aggressively as we used to. Craigslist changed their algorithm, where they started charging money. They changed their HTML, so you couldn’t manipulate the code and do all that stuff, and they found ways to flag you. You used to be able to create a lot of opportunities in Craigslist and get creative before they got smart.
Aaron: What I got from you just now that I think that people can apply and use today was how resourceful you became, because somebody else is the one that had those– People could have easily given up and said, “Hey, these agents that have all those bank-owned listings, they’re getting all the action.” You figured out, “What’s the hot button? What do people want? I’m going to become the expert at that and I’m going to provide a value.”
For them, the value is like, “I’m going to give you a list of homes with a map.” In exchange, they’re going to call you back and that became how you got those deals. How many-
Aaron: Go ahead.
Jeff: Well, you find out what people want, what their problem is, and you figure out a way to solve it. One thing you’re talking about is being agile. I read this book recently called The Illusion of Money. It talks about this girl and there’s like Sally one, Sally two, and Sally three, and they each get a million bucks. Sally one, she takes her money and spends it on drugs and parties and has a good time.
Sally two, she takes her money and she goes and learns how to invest in real estate and buys rental properties and creates this passive income. Then, you got Sally three who invests her money into herself, into her mindset, into yoga and get fit, and really, really working on this piece right here, your most important tool.
one comes, Sally one is screwed. Sally two has all these rentals, but nobody can pay the rentals and those properties are worth less than what she paid for them. Sally three, she does all right, because she’s been working on herself and doing the inner work and she’s strong. She’s fit and she makes it through. That was just a really interesting concept revisiting or reading that book because if you look at it, if you work on yourself and do the inner work on your physicality, your mentality, [chuckles] I guess that’s the word.
Aaron: That’s the word. It looks like.
Jeff: Mentality, we’ll use it. You can get through anything. You can adapt and you can adjust and you can make it through any challenges thrown at you.
Aaron: It’s almost like saying, don’t actually invest in assets, invest in yourself. Invest in training yourself and doing this stuff maybe because then, you get through whatever. Assets come and go. That’s definitely an interesting concept.
Jeff: You are the best asset. You are the number one asset.
Aaron: You are the number one asset. Well, let’s talk about that for a second. You said you hired your first coach, that changed everything. You’ve done all sorts of different coaching programs, masterminds. Tell us about those, which masterminds have you done over the years and at what levels are those– I remember you telling me crazy stories of those?
Jeff: Masterminds, yes I’ve coached with Tony Robbins in his Platinum Partnership coaching. My first coach to help me really learn how to market was Craig Proctor. He’s a Dan Kennedy student, done all kinds of coaching, done it all. Even the deep inner work with in everything [chuckles] and everywhere you can. Now, it’s just really going within. The physicality side though, I think has been a big game changer for me with the Ironmans and the ultramarathons and stuff like that too.
Aaron: The first time you and I hang out was getting to train for some Ironman stuff. For me, it was my very first one. I was terrified by the whole thing. I remember as we were walking to go do the first event, you were laughing and giggling and so pumped up, and I’m like about to throw up, like, “This is crazy.” Now, ones I’ve completed, my second one was very different. It was like that feeling of yours, like, “No, this is fun. This is our day.”
You’ve continued to push yourself to a bunch of different levels. When it comes to power of the mind, I’ll see you make posts on social media, and go, “Hey, I’m going to buy this helicopter someday. I’m going to buy this someday. I’m going to buy this boat someday” and then, you make crazy stuff happen.
You also go through– And at the different levels you just started working on– You said you have a 200-miler coming up. What’s that evolution been like and how does the goals of completing a 200-miler, does that relate to getting the helicopter, to getting the other stuff you think?
Jeff: It’s all linked. It’s all tied in because when you push yourself to do these Ironmans or these 100-milers or 200-milers, you get to elevate your energy, your life force. As you’re able to push yourself, a new version of yourself has to be born, a stronger version. You know as well as I do, when you do these Ironmans or these endurance sports that are over 6 hours and some, 105 hours. You go in some very dark places when you’re there. You’ve done the work that you go to some very dark places where you confront some challenges and the demons in your mind, for lack of better words.
Where it’s like, “I want to quit. This sucks. Why am I doing this?” The pain is unbearable to where then you can fight through it, and change your physiology by smiling to elevate your energy and trick your body into feeling better, and making sure your energy consumption is good. When you can go through that, you can handle anything. It’s like a rubber band. Once it’s stretched, it never goes back to the same size.
When you can stretch yourself and push yourself to have a voluntarily pain, an unintentional pain that most people will never experience, where you’re just depleted. There’s a gift in there because when you come here, it’s powerful. It’s crazy.
Aaron: Yes. I love what you said there too. When you’re 4 hours into the run or 6 hours into the run or 10 hours into the run and you’re dying. One of the first things you can do is smile, and smile and tell yourself, “I love running. I love biking. I love doing this.” Just by smiling, it changes how you breathe. It changes what your heart rate does. It changes your whole energy level. That can apply to running ultramarathons, that can apply to life’s craziness.
The simple part of forcing yourself to smile and forcing yourself to think positive, it isn’t just a– When people are like, “Hey, just think positive.” It isn’t just a mind thing. It makes physical changes to your body when you actually force a smile, force a laugh, do that stuff. That was proven to me doing these endurance-type stuff. It goes like, “Oh yes, in business that works too. In business, we got to think positive. We got to do that.”
Real Estate Rockstars, this is Aaron Amuchastegui. As you know when you’ve been hearing these episodes, so many of our guests give us lots of free gifts and share the tools they’ve been using to become successful. We’ve got free real estate tools, scripts, eBooks, blocking materials, and more. We keep track of everything in our vault and it’s updated with new items each and every week. If you want access to that stuff, it’s totally free for being a listener. All you have to do is go to agentsuccesstoolbox.com and get your free gifts now.
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Aaron: If you could go tell yourself when it comes to real estate or maybe any other advice, telling yourself if you could go back and give your 25-year-old self advice or your 22-year-old self advice as you just got started into real estate, what advice would you give yourself when it comes to real estate?
Jeff: I would’ve bought more homes, for sure. I would’ve paid attention to that guy in the corner that was going through the newspaper and looking at all the auctions, and going to the auctions, and buying properties. That would be probably the one thing as far as real estate goes. I would’ve definitely bought more homes. Real estate sales, I learn how to market, learn how to be a better marketer because I think if you’re a good marketer, you can start any business.
If you know how to generate leads, and connect with people, and help them solve their problems, you can start a business doing anything. That’s probably what I would tell myself, and then maybe just to grow up faster or be able to mature. I partied a lot. My wife matured a lot quicker than I did, probably by 10 years, even though she’s younger than me. [laughs]
Aaron: She was the chick that keeps you in lines. As you’re saying that-
Jeff: [chuckles] Say that to her.
Aaron: -it’s like reminding agents out there when you’re an agent, you’re going to see a lot of people buying houses and selling. You’re going to meet investors. You’re going to meet people, and you’re saying you would have paid more attention. The people you’re earning a commission from, maybe you would’ve paid more attention doing what they’re doing, learning from them, following the same lessons, that sort of stuff. That could really help.
One thing was you talked about mature. Recently, you made a post like, “Hey–,” You had an agent tell you out there that you’re completely unprofessional. I thought your response– That was amazing. When I read that, my wife was like, “Hey, check this out. I love Jeff when he’s out there challenging it.” Tell me about that. Tell me about the agent saying that– What they did and what your response was.
Jeff: We just had a disagreement, and she just sent me a text that said, “You’re so unprofessional.” Yet, in the industry, I feel like I’m the black sheep in the industry in a good way, intentionally. I’m just me. I’m authentic. This is my work outfit today, jeans, flannel shirt, bull cap. Our team, our company, we’re just different. We might be a little rough around the edges.
We climb mountains. We run Ironmans. We push the limits, and we do things different than most companies. We’re not your country-club-polo-shirt-wearing realtors. There was a time where I had a suit and tie, and I’d go around wearing that thing with my crew, and the minute I could take it off, I would. It just wasn’t me. It didn’t feel right.
I feel like this world is starving for authenticity, and starving for real people to work with, not somebody that’s wearing a mask, pretending to be someone they’re not. I feel like there’s a death of the salesmen. If I think of a salesman– This is just my opinion. You see that guy in 1950 that’s leaving his family with his briefcase in a suit, walking out the door.
I just get results. When people meet me, I’m very confident, I figure what their problem is, and then I tell them how we’re going to get that handled. I care about people and I’m just me. I’m authentic, and I will kick 15 salesmen’s ass in volume and in deals in a bull cap, and a flannel shirt, and a pair-of-jeans.
Aaron: I love that advice, really. That advice and that experience of– Being authentic isn’t dead. I tell people when they’re new, sometimes people try to act like they’ve done a bunch of deals. I’m like, “No, if this is your second deal, tell the buyer like so, this is my second deal, so help me out a little bit here”
Or, “I might not be doing it right, but it is so important to me.” Even if it’s your first or second deal, just being authentic of who you are in the process, because then you’re going to be able to find people that you can serve even better. The people that you’re serving and you’re helping are the people that like who you are. They match your personality, and you’re crushing it as a result.
Jeff: We’re just sold to so much. Everybody is always selling us stuff. I feel like people have their guard up, and then when they meet somebody that’s authentic and real in their selves, they’re like, “Oh, wow. A human being” and they can [laughs] It’s just different. My videos are me in a bull cap. People reach out and they love it, because they just see a normal person that can actually help them. When you just give a shit about people, you’re never going to have to worry about business, if you care about people.
Aaron: You just connect, and they’re like, “Okay.” They’re like, “I see this guy. He’s a normal guy. He’s telling me this. I believe him. He’s not–,” The best videos we ever did on Facebook when we’re saying, “Hey, I’m going to buy your house.” We did all these professional ones and then others wearing the same thing. It was me in a bull cap, walking through a house I had just bought, talking about it, and going like, “Hey, if you have a house like this you want to sell me, I’ll buy it.” That was the best performer.
I think I even misspelled something in it, and that was our best performer out of anything else because it was more real. It wasn’t anything fancy. It was like, “Now, this is what we do, and if works for you–” The-
Jeff: In our industry, that’s important because it wasn’t polished. It wasn’t scripted or nothing. In our industry, we got to be careful because it’s been going down the slippery slope of your scripts, your objection handlers, your neural intrinsic programming. Your words are used to get advantages on people. I’ve found, going through all that stuff, there’s just more power in a real conversation and the energetic exchange.
I’ll take any day over trying to manipulate someone over some scripts. I don’t know, man. I’m going against the grain of what I’ve been taught in sales the last six or seven years, and it’s just connecting with people.
Aaron: That’s super important for listeners and agents out there because we try to provide agents with all sorts of tools, and we help them with the scripts and the tactics. Everybody provides a free gift on how to get there, and there’s so much of that in there. There’s also other ways. The script could be, being open, being honest, and again, asking them what problem they have and just seeing if you can solve that problem.
When it comes to solving people’s problems, that’s something that you’ve been super unique at. How many services do you guys offer now, when it comes to solving people’s problems out there that in real estate, what are all the ancillary services, the part of Latham Real Estate is?
Jeff: Sure. We’re that one-stop-shop. We found when we had homes for sale, people would need to have work done on their homes. It’s hard to find a contractor that was worth their salt. We started a construction company to handle any problems that come up for work orders, and then we started building homes.
When we meet people– We also started an investment company. We either buy their home, sell their home, buy their home and rent it to them until they find a new home, so then they don’t have to worry about buying contingent. We can build them a home. We can remodel or upgrade their home. We can just do it all. We’re that one-stop-shop. That’s what we do now. We just do it all.
Aaron: Like you said, you’ve got the construction company. You’ve got the investment company. Do you help people move houses, things like that? Has that been anything you’ve looked into, or is there another service that you’re going to try to get into next?
Jeff: Yes, I started that. That wasn’t a good idea, so don’t start at the moving company.
Aaron: Don’t start at the moving company. What’s the biggest problem with that?
Jeff: You drop one dresser, and your profit’s gone. You bang up walls, it’s not profitable. You got to look at, also profitability.
Aaron: Wasn’t worth the risk. How many deals have you done the last year? What’s the average size of the deals you guys do out there?
Jeff: Average price point’s about 380,000. Last year, we did 180 transactions right around $67 million.
Aaron: Wow. How big is your team?
Jeff: Probably about 12 right now.
Aaron: Wow, so the-
Jeff: All of our companies, there’s about 25 people I think.
Aaron: That’s a lot of houses for 12 in a real estate team, and 25 between the construction company, investment, all that stuff.
Jeff: Yes, and a lot of those are admin staff as well.
Aaron: That’s how you grow. If someone’s going to ask you, what should be the first ancillary business they’d go into, or what should they be thinking about when they grow their business or hire, what advice would you give them?
Jeff: Your first hire should be a Rockstar Assistant. She should be able to think for you and ahead of you. If you have a great assistant, you can do anything as long as you’re able to stay in your strengths.
Aaron: You stay on the stuff that makes you money and have an assistant that helps you with everything else, and they want to help you succeed.
Jeff: Yes, for sure.
Aaron: As we start to wrap up here, the last question I want to ask is what’s next for you and Latham Real Estate? What are you the most excited about for what’s next in your life, career, business, any of that stuff?
Jeff: I’m excited about simplification. I don’t know, this next season of my life is just simplicity. I always go back and forth, I want to take over the world, and then the other side of me wants to just play all the time. The side of me that wants to play is really speaking to my heart. What I mean by that is, I don’t need to do as much volume to make the same amount of money.
The MREA model, I feel there are some fundamental flaws in there that I’ve seen. It’s a high-overhead and a high-volume machine to make a million dollars net, you got to do a hundred million dollars in volume. I believe you can make a million net off of 50 million in volume, if you can have your expenses under control, still produce and run your cost-of-sales correctly.
What’s next for me, Aaron is just, selling some of my rentals, just getting my house paid for being completely debt-free, and just having this machine make me 80,000 to 100,000 a month net. In a simplistic matter, just make more, do less, and just be more present and have more time with my family and my children at this stage of my life.
They’re little and they won’t be around forever. That’s the most important thing is really focusing on that. That’s what’s been great about Front Row Dads, give a little plug to that. You and I are both in theirs. It really dials down to what’s really important in life, and that’s your family.
Aaron: Yes. Front Row Dads, it’s a great mastermind that Jeff and I are both are part of, where a bunch of dads get together. The couple of events a year, couple of days where we have all these different masterminds we’re going to for real estate and finances and things like that. Why not go hang out with a bunch of dads and figure out, “How can we be better dads?” Anything you focus on becomes better.
I agree that life has those seasons and those shifts, where sometimes it’s a growth season and sometimes it’s a we’re-out-of-business-and-we’re-trying-to-restart-it. You talked about those and having those. It’s really awesome that right now, you’re in a season where you’re like, okay, you’ve had a bunch of success in different things, now it’s going to be more important as you’re like, maybe you’re going to actually slow it down with work for the next couple of years.
You can always go back to working hard if you want, but while your kids are young, you want to focus on them more, maybe do a couple of less houses or a couple of less flips. Or, get it to where your horizontal income covers all of your every other stuff, all of your expenses, so you can just live life as you want.
You can always go back to busy, but we have very few times in our lives where we can be not busy and cover our bills. I think it’s cool that you’ve identified that and seen like, hey, you’ve been building this for 18 years. You’ve been building this business for a really long time, putting the things and the pieces in place, and now you’re about building up your mind and you are your most powerful weapon.
Also your kids are your most important assets and your wife, and your family’s your most important asset being able to grow that. I think everyone out there should go follow you on social media. You and I are good friends. It’s awesome that we can chat whenever, but I still love getting to see what you’re on there.
I think everybody out there should be going to listen, if they’re involved in real estate and just want to see some of the way that you attack life. How do people find you out there if they want to find you on social or website or anything like that?
Jeff: Yes, man, I’m pretty active on Facebook. Just look me up on Facebook, and you’ll find me.
Aaron: All right. Jeff Latham on Facebook. Last name is L-A-T-H-A-M. There’ll also be some links in the show notes. Jeff, I had a bunch of fun getting to talk with you and catch up with you, about how you’ve been able to build your businesses and those ancillary services. I think all of our listeners are going to love it. Rockstar Nation, thanks for listening today, and be sure to go subscribe. Thanks.
Jeff: Thank you.