Are NFL Football Players Rich?

I don’t get it. Many folks can’t retire because they’re broke. They’ve worked their whole lives and have little to show for it. Lord knows, getting a $1,000 Social Security check every month isn’t my idea of a retirement plan. However, receiving $15,000 a month in mailbox money is a lot more like it – don’t you agree?

People often point to the downside of being an investor – tenants. True – if you put a bad tenant in your house, then you’re not gonna have an enjoyable time. The other side of the coin is this: Most tenants – if you screen them properly – are easy to work with, take great care of the property, pay their rent on time and are good neighbors. And here’s the best part – you get to choose which tenant – a good one or a bad one – goes in your investment property!

Let me ask you a simple question: When you retire, would you rather go to your mailbox on the first of every month and pick up a single, measly Social Security check, or would you rather see your mailbox cram-packed with…

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Paint ‘Em Pepto-Bismol Pink

One of the vacant homes we saw

Just finished having a nice lunch with two experienced real estate professionals. One was a realtor, the other a mortgage broker. To be specific, they wanted to know how quickly I thought property values would rise from this point forward.

All real estate is local. Just because values may be skyrocketing in New York, it doesn’t mean they’re also skyrocketing in North Georgia. These are two completely different areas. Thankfully, in Adairsville, we’re not covered up with hard-to-understand Yankees!

Home values have been dragging along the bottom for about a year. I explained that values would rise only after the excess inventory was gone. They stated that there wasn’t any more excess inventory in Cartersville, Georgia. I asked, “How did you come to this conclusion?” “We read the paper and watch TV news,” they replied.

Folks, if you really want to know what’s happening in the housing market, turn off the news, get in your car, drive to a neighborhood in your area and start looking around and knocking on sellers’ doors. And that’s exactly what we did. We drove to one of the nicer subdivisions in Cartersville and started poking around.

As we entered the subdivision, I asked, “How many distressed properties are in here?” Neither knew, but both guessed that it wasn’t many. As we started, I asked them to picture every distressed home we came across as being painted Pepto-Bismol pink. This would allow these homes to really…

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Too Much Yakking, Not Enough Confidence

She rang the doorbell and silently prayed for guidance: “Lord, help me to say the right thing.” The homeowner answered and invited her in……..and she started yakking. Yak. Yak. Yak. She yakked about her experience in real estate, her precious dog and her friend’s struggling business. The homeowner listened patiently, even offering encouraging words of advice. When the meeting was over and she walked to her car, she realized that she knew nothing about the homeowner’s situation and hadn’t a clue how to help – but the homeowner sure knew a lot about her!

That ‘she’ was me, sixteen years ago. Understandable, since I was a newly minted investor. But the sad thing is, that ‘she’ was also me last year, when I ventured out into the field after six years of sitting behind the comfort of my desk coordinating short sales.

I can’t tell you how many houses I’ve walked into – homeowners I’ve talked to – only to screw up the deal because I talked more than I listened. Ugghhh! Nervous energy would override my brain and cause my mouth to go into overdrive. I would yak, yak, yak and not learn a single thing about the homeowner’s situation. Then I would try to structure the deal! Well heck, NO ONE can structure a deal when they don’t know…

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I’ve Got Rental Roaches – Yikes!

A couple of weeks ago, I spent the day inspecting several of our rental properties. At one of the properties, I quickly realized that something was definitely amiss. The home’s interior was filthy and the yard hadn’t been mowed. Turned out the tenant’s wife had left him two months before. The poor fella didn’t know whether he was coming or going.

As we sat at the kitchen table discussing his problems, a big, honkin’ two-pound cockroach ran across the table. I FREAKED out! I HATE roaches!!! The man finished what he was saying with: “Oh, and I have roaches, too.”

This family had been in the home for three years without any problems. The wife was as neat as a pin. Now that she had left, everything had gone to pot. Dirty dishes were everywhere, the trashcans were overflowing, and when I opened the cabinets, I found more roaches. This is called a we’re-gonna-solve-this-right-now-today problem.

Because the tenant was no longer able to take care of the property by himself, he decided that it would be best for him to…

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How To Creatively Fund Your Deals

When it’s time to buy an investment property, most would-be real estate investors think that it’s as simple as going to a bank, filling out some paperwork and getting a mortgage. While that may have been true back in 2004 and 2005, that’s not how it’s done today. In fact, if you need purchase-money funds, good luck getting them from a bank!

So how and where do you get the money you need to fund a real estate investing deal? Easy answer – the money is all around you! Do you think anyone likes keeping their money in the bank, where they’re only earning around 1% interest? Think about it: Inflation is at 4%; this means that someone with money in the bank is actually going backward 3% each year!

The big question is: What would make someone want to loan you the money to do a deal? First, the lender needs to make a much better return than he can make at a bank. Second, his loan must be safe, and by safe, I mean that it’s secured by a whole bunch of collateral!

Your next question is probably this: Where do I get the collateral? From your deal, of course! Over the years, Kim and I have done a good bit of lending. When someone brings us a deal where the collateral offered is a solid property that doesn’t need a lot of work and they’re buying it for forty-cents-on-the-dollar, we’re usually good to go. But if it’s a stinker of a deal – in other words, the collateral isn’t very good – there’s no way we – or anyone else – will…

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Seph, Meet Your Parents – Back Then

Joseph David English, welcome to the world! By the time you’re able to read and fully understand this letter, your parents, Joe and Ashley, will be wealthy real estate investors who, it will appear to you, have nothing better to do than travel the world having fun while constantly interfering in your life.

I’m writing this to you, Seph, because it’s important you know that your parents weren’t born with silver spoons in their mouths. Their success wasn’t due to luck or a winning lottery ticket. Your mom and dad’s success was a worked-at, strived-for thing. In the early years of their marriage they sacrificed greatly. They lived like no one else so that one day, they – and you – could live like no one else!

You were born on Friday, August 24, 2012 at 11:57 p.m., at the Gordon County Hospital. There to welcome you was a waiting room full of joyous family and friends, many of whom were real estate investors. You may think that there’s no such thing as a born real estate investor, but trust me on this, Seph – you are one!

How tough is your mom? On the morning you were born, while she was in labor, Ashley closed her first Short Sale deal! We’re talkin’ one heck of a tough woman! At the same time, everyone around Ashley sees her as an…

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Oh How I Love Trusts!

Business owners, here’s something to consider: Let’s say you’re a real estate investor and you’ve spent the past fifteen years working and sacrificing to build a portfolio of twenty single-family rental homes. Your portfolio has a lot of equity and great cash flow. You’ve finally reached the point where you can relax, travel and enjoy life – Oh, and yes, you DID build it yourself!

Then you get The Call. It’s from one of those one-call-that’s-all, flea-bag attorneys who tells you that he’s representing one of your tenants who was seriously injured after falling down some steps at one of your rentals. Of course, he fails to mention that your tenant was inebriated at the time he fell – the attorney doesn’t want things like facts and the truth to get in the way of his big, easy payday!

The attorney threatens to sue you for ten million dollars, or explains that you can simply write a fifteen thousand dollar check and avoid the lawsuit. Oh sure – in many circles this “offer” would be considered extortion, but because it’s an attorney making the call…

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Landlords’ #1 Legal Mistake

Last week, Houston Long, a fellow real estate investor and longtime friend (though he doesn’t like admitting to the “longtime friend” part), had to take a tenant to Magistrate Court to seek an eviction. The tenant had quit paying rent. This left Houston with no option but to try and get the tenant out and his rental property back.

Taking a tenant to court should be a no-other-choice decision. For Houston, who’s been managing tenants and rental properties for more than eight years, this is the first time he’s had to take a tenant to court. Previously, he had been able to resolve all landlord-tenant issues at the tenant’s kitchen table without getting a Magistrate Judge involved.

Houston didn’t ask me to attend his dispossessory hearing, but with it being his first time in court and because I was secretly hoping his case would turn into an exciting landlord-tenant train wreck, I couldn’t keep myself away.

On dispo day, the Magistrate Judge walked in, banged his gavel, and called Houston and his tenant forward for each to present his case. After asking a few questions, the Judge ruled in favor of…

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What We See When Working Foreclosures

We bought two properties at the August foreclosure auction in Bartow County. After the auction, a new real estate investor asked us a question we hear often: What do you see when you’re out working foreclosures? Today’s column answers this question.

A couple of days ago, I headed out to look at some properties scheduled to be sold at the September foreclosure auction. Joining me were my buddies Houston Long and John Clark. Houston is an experienced investor who has one of the best creative deal-structuring minds around. John is new to real estate investing and is a quick learner.

Our goal was to see 27 properties that day. (There are a total of 115 properties advertised to be sold at September’s foreclosure auction in Bartow County.) To make finding the properties easier, Houston maps them on his iPad, then breaks Bartow into quadrants and sectors. Working with him reminds me of a Tom Clancy novel and having “John Clark” in the car definitely adds to this feeling.

Of the foreclosure properties we saw, a little over a third were abandoned. A good number of these had been empty for six months or longer. Sadly, this ratio is pretty typical.

Abandoned properties come in three basic varieties. First…

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The Magic Happens at the Seller’s Kitchen Table (Part 3)

In the first two parts of this series, we discussed the best way for real estate investors to quickly find folks who want to sell their home. Today, let’s talk about what to do once you’re face-to-face with a seller. (NOTE: If you missed parts one or two, you’ll find them on our website at

OK, you’re in the seller’s house. What should you do first? The thing I want to do first is go straight to the seller’s kitchen table and find out why she is selling her home. But what usually happens is that I’m given a grand tour of the property.

In years past, these tours bored me to tears. I’d think: Wow, there’s a bathroom and a couple of bedrooms down this hall – who would have guessed? But with time, I’ve learned that the tour is a great time to begin building a relationship with the seller.

These days, as I’m shown around the seller’s house, I pick out the odd things the seller owns – you know, the things that don’t really belong. When I see an oddity I ask, “What in the heck is this thing?” Often, the seller lights up and launches into an interesting story. Curiosity will help you build rapport.

After the tour, we end up at the seller’s kitchen table. Usually I’m offered a glass of water – or if I’m lucky, some sweet tea. It’s wise to accept the offer. After all, sometimes you’re at the…

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