Category Archive: Articles

Goodbye. We’ll See Y’all Later!

Bill and Kim Cook

Kim and I want to thank you for reading our weekly real estate investing newspaper column for the past 13 years. With this last article, we say: Goodbye, y’all!

In 2003, when we started this feature, we were still fairly new to real estate investing. As we gained knowledge and experience, we shared the creative deal-structuring techniques we learned that allowed the impossible deals to become not only possible, but also probable.

We also shared most every mistake we made along the way. We did this because more great lessons are learned from failure than from success!

And, we wrote a ton of articles about what it takes to succeed. No matter what field you’re in, the attributes it takes to succeed can be boiled down to these ten: love, accomplishment, discipline, persistence, belief, integrity, associations, a yearning to learn, sacrifice and giving back.

The story about how our weekly column first got in the paper demonstrates these attributes at work.

In 2002, we wrote a one-page newsletter that was passed out at our monthly real estate investor meeting. As 2003 approached, I decided to get our “articles” published in the newspaper.

On a Monday at 10 a.m., I walked up to the editor’s desk, introduced myself, explained who I was and what I wanted, and gave him my article. He thanked me, told me he didn’t want or need my column, and pointed to…

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You Bought the House, Now What?

Rail Drive

When Kim and I were baby real estate investors, we were totally focused on buying our first investment property. Then one day it actually happened! I remember leaving the closing attorney’s office pumped up. When we got in the car, Kim asked, “Now what?”

Now what, indeed! I hadn’t given that part of the equation much thought. This happens to a lot of new real estate investors. So once you get a house, what do you do next?

To answer this question, let’s look at three properties we’re working on right now.

The first is 337 Rail Drive in Adairsville, Georgia. Kim bought this house at the November 2015 foreclosure auction. From the start, it was a flip. In other words, we bought this property to resell. We’re flipping this home because we need to replenish our cash reserves.

Shortly after purchase, Kim had the property trashed out. Because our contractors were tied up rehabbing Akin Drive, she elected to delay doing the extensive repair work Rail Drive needed. Instead, she offered it at a wholesale price, which was well-below market.

In less than a week, Kim found a qualified buyer and accepted her purchase offer. Unfortunately, about a week later, the buyer changed her mind because she was scared about…

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Pick Your Bone: Wishbone, Jawbone or Backbone


To succeed at real estate investing, or business, or life, requires bone – the right kind of bone.

Because real estate investing is pretty easy to understand – you buy a house and then either sell it or keep it as a rental – lots of folks are interested in becoming investors. Want proof? Look at all the traveling dog-and-pony shows coming through town offering their “free” seminars to a “select few.”

We get lots of calls from would-be investors who’ve attended one of these get-rich-quick-snake-oil events. Most actually believe that real estate millions can be acquired by working only thirty minutes a week and without meeting face-to-face with sellers. That’s like a doctor trying to build a successful practice having office hours from 9:00 to 9:30 a.m. and without seeing any patients. Crazy, right?

Truth be told, most of the people we meet with have the ability to be incredibly successful. After all, real estate investing is pretty simple, but it’s not easy. There’s no way around one simple fact: You’ve got to get face-to-face with a lot of sellers on a regular basis and make a lot of written offers!

Said another way, the number one reason real estate investors quit is because…

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How We Creatively Funded Our Latest Deal


How do seasoned real estate investors creatively fund their deals without going to a bank? To show you one way, let’s look at a deal that Kim and I recently got funded using a private-money lender.

This deal began when Kim and I were high bidders at the December 3, 2013 property tax auction in Cartersville, Georgia. We bought the tax deed on 50 Akin Drive for $2,800. The purchase money came from our checking account and was used to pay up the property’s back taxes for tax years 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. By the way, despite what the TV infomercial claims about buying tax deeds, as high bidders, we only owned the tax deed, not the property!

Over the next twelve months, either the property owners (who had abandoned the property) or their mortgage company had the right to buy back the property’s tax deed for our $2,800 purchase price, plus pay us a fee of 20% interest.

Because neither the property owner, nor their mortgage company, redeemed the tax deed during the one-year redemption window, we ran a notice in the legal section of the newspaper and…

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The Music is in the Man!

Dyches Boddiford proving the music is in the man!

In my early twenties, Dean Kates was my mentor. I’d decided that to be successful, I needed to buy a Mercedes Benz and a gold Rolex watch. He told the following story to help me understand that greatness comes from within, not from what you own!

After many years away, a world-famous violinist returned to his small hometown in Georgia. He came to play a benefit concert to raise much-needed funds for his high school’s music program. Because the violinist was one of the very best musicians in the world, the town spared no expense rolling out the red carpet for their most-famous son.

At a reception held two hours before the concert, many of the performer’s high school chums showed up to pat him on the back and wish him well. As a group, they asked to see his one-of-a-kind Stradivarius that had been built in the 17th century. It was said that the music that flowed from his Stradivarius was the sweetest, purest, most heart-touching melodies the world has ever known.

But not everyone was thrilled by the much-celebrated maestro’s return. In a darken corner of the reception hall stood…

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Do You Have Big But Disease?

Not This Kind of Big But Disease!

The thing that kills most real estate investors – heck, the thing that prevents 95% of folks from reaching anywhere close to their full potential as human beings – is the dreaded Big But Disease!

It goes something like this: I want to start my own business, but…. I want to do more for my church, but…. I want to own 20 free-and-clear rental properties, but… I want to get in shape, but…. I want to improve my marriage, but… I want to spend more quality time with my kids, but…

That stinky Big But Disease will squash your dreams, murder your goals, and destroy the person you were born to be!

Starting today, what if you replaced saying “but…” with saying “I’ll do whatever it takes to get this thing done!”

So instead of saying, “I want to run a marathon, but…” you’d say, “I want to run a marathon, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get this thing done!” With this attitude how much more would you accomplish in your lifetime?

My dad wanted his son to be a fleet-footed star running back for Bear Bryant’s Alabama Crimson Tide. Unfortunately, when I was young, I was forced to wear…

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Getting Mailbox Money Without Tenants

mailbox money

Two decades ago, Kim and I set a goal to replace our earned income with investment income.

There are a couple of advantages to achieving this goal. First, you don’t have to labor for a living. In other words, your capital is working for you instead of you working for your capital. Second, the tax rate on earned income is much higher than it is on investment income. Said another way: With investment income, the government lets you keep more of what you make, and when it comes to money, more is better than less, right?

To accomplish this goal, we figured we’d need fifteen single-family rental properties. Each month, the tenants would send in their rent checks. Part of these checks go toward paying the mortgages, insurance, property taxes, vacancies, repairs and management. We get to keep whatever is left over to spend or invest how we see fit.

There is a downside to owning rental property. Though for tax purposes the government considers what you make to be passive income, there’s still hands-on work that needs to be done to maintain the property and the tenants.

Because of the many landlord-tenant horror stories, some investors despise the idea of working with tenants. They’d rather stick a hot needle in their eye than to have any interaction with rent payers.

Here are three techniques Kim and I use to get mailbox money that doesn’t require us to have any…

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What’s Better Than Mailbox Money?

Kim at her latest deal on Rail Drive!

For more than twenty years, I’ve said many times that there’s nothing better than mailbox money. After all, instead of having to go out and labor for eight to ten hours a day just to earn a highly-taxed paycheck, who wouldn’t rather have checks magically appear in their mailbox each and every month?

Rent checks are one example of mailbox money. For instance, if you own ten single-family rental homes, and each one rents for $900 per month, this equals $9,000 being slid into your post office box each month. Sweet!

Another example is selling a home and offering your buyers owner financing. The buyers get the house and in return, they give you a secured note that obligates them to send you a monthly mortgage payment.

I never thought anything surpassed a mailbox full of money. Turns out I was wrong! I just made an incredible discovery. The thing that tops mailbox money is kept-man money!

What, exactly, is kept-man money? It’s when your wife goes out and hustles up a big, fat…

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There Are No Tears in Real Estate

50 Akin Drive being rehabbed

With less than a week left before completing a major rehab on our latest real estate investing deal, all Kim wanted to do was to drop to the floor and cry when she saw what had happened to every interior wall in the home.

The day before, the walls had been perfect. But on this day, the walls looked like something you’d see in one of those circus houses with funny mirrors that make your head look huge while making your body look the size of a walnut.

In this home, we’d replaced all the paneling with new paneling. Then came two days of constant rain. Because the HVAC system wasn’t yet working, there was a significant increase in the home’s humidity level. The new paneling quickly absorbed the excess humidity and became wavy.

A multitude of things made Kim want to cry. All the time and money spent demolishing the old walls and installing the new ones was for naught. The rehab was scheduled to be completed in five more days, but now would be extended by at least two weeks. The extra work would cause this rehab to go over…

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Own Nothing, Control Everything

Dyches finally admitting that Bill was right!

A real estate investor offered to buy me lunch in exchange for information. He wanted to know how we held title to our properties. In other words, whose name was on the deed?

When we met, he explained that he’d gone to the deeds room in the courthouse to lookup which properties Kim and I owned. After much research, he concluded that we didn’t own any houses – and he was right!

But how can I be a real estate investor and not own any real estate. Easy answer. We don’t own any properties personally! Having assets in our names can be reckless. Plus, it can wreak havoc on our estate plan when we die.

NOTE: I’m not an attorney or a CPA, so what I say is just my opinion. Seek competent council before you make any big, life-changing decisions.

We use trusts to hold all of our property – both real and personal. In other words, everything we own is held in a series of trusts that are controlled by our trustees. We do this for two main reasons: estate planning and anonymity.

Let’s talk about trusts and estate planning. Most folks have a will. Upon death, their will gets probated. This means a judge determines the validity of the person’s will. And here’s the frustrating part: if anyone disagrees with anything in your will, that person(s) can sue your estate.

Oh, it gets even better. Did you know that once your will is probated that it becomes a…

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