Category Archive: Articles

Subpar Houses Attract Subpar Tenants

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Brad wanted to get into real estate investing a while back so he bought a single-family rental property. A few days ago he called to say that he was desperate to sell. In fact, he told me that he didn’t care if he lost money on the deal, as long as he never had to work with another tenant ever again!

Does this sound like a motivated seller to you?

Over coffee at Waffle House, Brad went into more detail. He had constant turn over – tenants were staying no more than a month or two and then moving out. He got daily complaint calls telling him that this thing wasn’t working or that that thing was broken. The tenants never paid on time. The yard was always a mess. Bottom line: To Brad, tenants were nothing but a big pain in the keister!

From Waffle House I followed Brad to his rental property. The closer we got to his property, the worse the area became: boarded up houses, stray dogs everywhere, broken-down cars, etc. I locked my door and was ready to…

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Making $13,000 With No Money Invested


Want to see how to make $13,000 in two short weeks with no money invested and without owning the home?

With creative real estate investing, Jack Miller taught us to structure on purpose. Pete Fortunato taught us to use what we want, to get what we need, to get what we want. Let’s take a look at these two all-important lessons in action.

Jonathan and Christie help us maintain some of the rental properties we manage. About a month ago, Christie told Kim that her mom wanted to sell her home in Acworth, Georgia. After meeting with Christie’s mom, Kim determined that the home was worth $90,000 and needed a $10,000 rehab. Kim offered either $63,000 cash or a $90,000 owner-carried note with payments of $300 per month, but the mom turned down both offers.

Kim then asked, “What’s the house of your dreams?” The mom answered, “One out in the country.” Unfortunately, we didn’t have any such property available.

The next day, Kim had an idea. Our friends Joe and Ashley English had a house on the outskirts of Adairsville that had just gone up for rent. Kim called Christie’s mom and asked, “How would you like to trade your house in the city for your dream home in the country?” The mom got so excited at the idea that she loaded up her family and immediately drove to the Adairsville house. She LOVED it! She agreed to a trade.

Two problems:

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Chapter and Verse, Please

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This past week, two people told me that two of the things I do regularly are illegal. One was a realtor who said that it was illegal for me to knock on a seller’s door when there’s a realtor’s sign in the yard. The other was a real estate attorney who said that it was illegal for me to use an Alternate Trustee to sell a property when the Trustee on the Warranty Deed is in town.

When you’re a new real estate investor, being told that what you’re doing is illegal will shake you to your core. You immediately think men with three large initials on the back of their jackets are about to bust through the door and scream at you to get facedown on the ground!

Thank God for Jack Miller. Jack has been one of my primary real estate investing teachers since 1999. He went to heaven about four years ago. Jack taught us a very valuable lesson: When someone tells you that you’re breaking the law, always ask for chapter and verse. In other words…

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Bank Loans Are Becoming Impossible

When it comes to investment real estate, Kim and I work both sides of the mortgage coin. We’re both borrowers and lenders.

Something crazy has been happening with banks over the past few years. Because of federal and state laws – as well as banks’ internal rules – it’s becoming near impossible for a well-qualified businessman to get a loan because of the mountain of needless information the lender requires before a loan will be granted.

Well, when the door shuts, a window opens. Because banks are demanding so much onerous information from borrowers, and because these same banks are paying a miserly less-than-one-percent interest on savings accounts, would-be borrowers are finding better, safer, cheaper ways to get loans. They’re getting loans from private citizens!

Here’s an example of this – it just happened to Kim and me yesterday…

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The Trial and Terror Method

Had a new guy in the car the other day. He wanted to see what a day in the life of a full-time real estate investor was like.

One of the things we talked about was what kind of houses made the best rental property. Easy answer: Wal-Mart houses. What’s a Wal-Mart house? If you go to the checkout line at Wal-Mart, hold up a picture of a nice three-bedroom, two-bath house and ask two questions: 1) Who would like to live here? 2) Who can afford to live here? If eight out of ten people raise their hands to both questions, then that is a Wal-Mart house, and will make a great investment property.

Then the greenhorn investor started going on about how smart I was. In disbelief, I dang near wrecked us into a telephone pole!

I commanded, “Don’t say another word…not another word!” I pulled a U-turn…and headed straight to a near-by property. It was an older brick house – built in 1978. It was way up on a hill – the driveway went straight up! I asked, “Would you ever by this property?” He answered, “What a terrible lot. Only an idiot or a billy goat would buy it!”

I explained that I was just such an idiot. I’d owned the house for the past seven years. I bought the house because…

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What to SAY to a Seller

What would you do if you heard a knock at your door, opened it, and found 43 real estate investors standing in your front yard? That’s exactly what happened to homeowners in Sarasota, Florida last week. Kim and I took 43 members of the Sarasota REIA (Real Estate Investors Association) out door-knocking.

You’re probably wondering how many doors got slammed in our faces, and how many warning shots were fired in our direction. Zero! Folks couldn’t have been nicer! Tony, the very first homeowner we talked to, invited us – all of us – in to see his house. For the day, we went in three houses and made four written offers. (You can see pictures, as well as our written offers, on North Georgia REIA’s Facebook page.)

While door-knocking, the most common question asked was…

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How to Fight Your Property Taxes!

In last week’s column, we discussed why you should fight your property taxes. This week, let’s look at where to start that fight. (Note: You will find last week’s column on our website.)

Kim and I began fighting our property taxes in 2006. That’s when real estate values were at an all-time high – which meant our property taxes were killing us! Even though we had no clue what to do, we felt that enough was enough…and began to fight. Since then, we’ve fought our property taxes 104 times. We’ve won 91 times – that’s an 88% winning percentage!

Two lessons we’ve learned: First, it pays to fight. Second, fighting your property taxes is a learned thing, not a born-knowing-how-to-do-it thing!

There are two components to your property taxes: Your property’s FMV (fair market value) as determined by the county’s Tax Assessor’s office, and the millage rate which is set by your elected officials.

To get your property taxes lowered, you can…

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Why Fight Your Property Taxes!

If you own real estate in Georgia, you just got – or are about to get – your Annual Assessment Notice from your county’s Tax Assessor. When you look at the bottom right corner of the form, you’ll see the total estimated taxes you owe in 2014.

Judging from the flood of calls and emails we’ve received this past week, the amount of property taxes most folks are being forced to pay is a good bit higher this year than last. This is doubly true for folks who own property in Bartow County. Not only did real estate values shoot up over the past year, in 2013, the newly County Commissioner raised the property tax rate (millage rate) by a whopping 25%! OUCH!

Kim and I are doing a couple of things to teach folks how to fight their property taxes – AND WIN! First, we’re writing two columns. This one talks about why you should fight your property taxes. Next week’s will show you…

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He’s Coming!

He’s coming…to Atlanta! Who? The best creative deal structurer Kim and I know – Mr. Peter Fortunato.

We’ve written this real estate investing newspaper column for more than 11 years. From the beginning, you’ve heard us singing Pete’s praises. Many of our biggest ah-ha moments came while sitting in Pete’s seminars. He is THE MAN!

Pete has the unique ability to take 1,000 words and condense them down to three. Pete has a ton of greats sayings – I call them Peteisms. Here are just a few: “I have a very high opinion of my opinion.” “When you have to pick between lifestyle and equity, pick equity!” “Be solution driven, not technique driven.” “Labor is the least efficient way to earn a living.” “Don’t tell me what you won’t do. Tell me what you will do!” “Don’t let other people’s traditions affect your transactions.” “Concentrate on quality, not quantity.” “What box?”

We attended our first Pete seminar in 1999. At the time, Kim and I had been investing in real estate for about four years. We thought we knew it all. About ten minutes into Pete’s presentation, we realized that we didn’t know…

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What Are Private Money Lenders?


At our real estate investors meeting last night, Beverly, a new investor, asked, “If I find a really good deal, where can I get the purchase and fix-up money?”

I asked the group, “If Beverly found a great deal – one with a lot of equity and/or cash flow – who here would make her the loan?” More than a quarter of the folks attending stood up. These people are known as Private Money Lenders.

What is a Private Money Lender? It is a person – rather than a bank or mortgage company – who loans an investor the funds he or she needs to take down a deal.

For example, not long ago, Kim and I found a nice single-family house that we wanted to buy and keep as a rental. The property was in great shape, needed almost no repairs, and was worth around $120,000. Because the seller needed to close fast, he agreed to an $85,000 price if we’d cover all closing costs.

We only had one problem. We were exactly $85,000 light of having the $85,000 we needed to do this deal. Other than that, we were…

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