There Are No Tears in Real Estate

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

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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Run, Move, Sweat!

What the hey? In the past four months, six people close to me have gone to the hospital with heart problems. One died. Four others had stents implanted, plus they were put on expensive, life-long heart medications. Just last week my brother-in-law went in for a stent – he’s in his early forties. Yesterday, it was my sister-in-law’s turn – she’s in her mid-fifties. Like I said: What the hey?

As it is with most real estate investors, Kim and I have spent years working diligently investing in real estate. Why all the effort and sacrifice? To achieve financial freedom so we can do what we want, when we want, where we want, why we want, and with whom we want.

But what if we achieve financial freedom only to discover that our good health has gotten up and gone? If health issues make us invalids, what good is financial freedom?

What can we do to prevent this? One hour a day – Run! Move! Sweat!

Most every morning, Kim and I spend…

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Wish I Had a Do Over

I’m writing this on Friday, October 9, 2015. It’s a heavy day for me. Today is the sixth anniversary of Jack Miller’s passing, and for the past few days my thoughts have frequently been about Jack.

Many of you have never heard of Jack Miller. Fewer still ever took the opportunity to learn from this great man. Jack, hands down, is the best all-around real estate investor I’ve ever met. He was the definition of original. There was no boundary he wouldn’t push.

Put simply: Many of the creative deal structuring and funding techniques investors use today were born in Jack’s wonderful imagination. There has never been, or will ever be, another Jack Miller.

I wish I had a do over. While I attended most of Jack’s seminars, there was more than a handful that I missed. If I could get that do over, I’d be front and center at each one of those missed seminars – taking notes like crazy!

Kim just asked what I’d pay to attend just one more of Jack’s seminars. One hundred thousand dollars wouldn’t be too much. God, to hear Jack ring his big bell that let folks know that class was back in session…yep, one hundred thousand dollars would be well-spent money!

When Jack passed, he was nearly eighty years old and at the top of his game. Here are a couple of Jack’s quotes I wrote down at his February 2009 Money Matters seminar…this was the last seminar he taught!

“When you are the only one in the desert with water, you can command a handsome price for that water.”

“Don’t look for big chunks of money. Instead, look for lots of small deals that pay you constantly”

“As real estate investors, we must constantly be adapting to the current market. Dinosaurs failed to do this and they’re now extinct.”

“There are two horses in this business – houses and paper. When real estate values drop, move to paper. When paper drops, move to real estate.”

“To succeed as a real estate investor, fish with a big net. You won’t make it if you’re fishing with a line that only has one hook at the end. In other words, you gotta make a lot of offers!”

“It’s one thing to pass a law. It’s another to enforce it.” (He said this with a twinkle in his eye!)

“When house values drop, it’s like the Titanic is sinking and you’re in the life boat saying, ‘Seats for sale!’”

“Keep thinking about how to pick up the penny off the pavement.”

“Raindrops turn into a river. You want a lot of people owing you money.”

“As an investor, always do more than you…

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About October’s Meeting!


We only have THREE meetings left!!! After 13 years, with the close of DECEMBER’S meeting, Kim and I will be shutting the doors on North Georgia REIA. You’ll want to be at each meeting between now and then because when we’re done, we’re done!

At October’s meeting, we’ll discuss the things you need to know – and do – if your goal is to prosper as a real estate investor. We won’t talk about the obvious things. Rather, we’ll discuss the things few investors have experience with – and fewer still ever talk about in public.

Here are some of those topics:

How do I – being an old, seasoned investor – quickly tell whether the deal is good or not? How do I know what I’m looking at? And if I decided to take the deal down, how do I get it funded fast?

What things do you need to have in place before you up your game and become a full-time real estate investor? I did a LOT of legwork in 1997 before going full-time on January 1, 1998. At October’s meeting, you’ll learn what I did to insure success.

The goal is to get mailbox money and achieve financial freedom. But how do you accomplish this if you HATE rental property and DESPISE tenants? It’s easier to do than you think. It just requires you to structure your deals just a bit differently.

If you’ve done ten or more deals, then you’re an experienced investor. That said, are you still structuring your deals the same way you did when you were a greenhorn? Want to see how you should be constructing your deals in order to…

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Sage Advice From an Old Investor

Only three meetings left! With the close of December’s real estate investors meeting, Kim and I will be shutting the doors on North Georgia REIA forever. With the end near, Kim and I have been reminiscing about the best lessons we’ve shared with our group.

With this in mind, here’s some sage advice from an old investor.

How do I know whether the deal is good or not? How do I know what I’m looking at? And if I decided to take the deal down, how do I get it funded fast without going to a bank?

When Kim and I began our investing careers in 1995, we thought all houses were pretty much the same. Over time and with experience, we learned what types of houses worked best for us.

If we are going to keep it as a rental, our favorite house is a…

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What Does Creative Deal Structuring Look Like?

Since 1999, Kim and I have continually learned from Pete Fortunato how to creatively structure and fund our deals – without going to banks!

The BEST real estate investing meeting we attend is the weekly Real Estate Exchangers meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida. It’s creative deal structuring and funding at its most pure.

Here’s an example of a deal that was put together at yesterday’s meeting.

Rich has a SUV that he’ll sell for $3,000 cash. Pretty straight up deal, right?

Pete offers to trade his Nissan truck for Rich’s SUV. But Rich doesn’t want a truck; he wants $3,000 cash! Does Pete have a hearing problem or what?

Here is a classic example of Use What You Have, To Get What You Need, To Get What You Want.

Upon seeing that Pete’s truck is on the block, Kevin offers to give Pete a…

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And Kim Came Running Outside Naked

Kim knows she’s not supposed to answer her iPhone when she’s in the shower. If the phone gets wet we’ll be saying goodbye to $700. Her wise and handsome husband has repeatedly warned her about this. No matter, that morning, as she bathed, when her phone rang, she answered it.

Seconds later, Kim came running out of the house naked!!!

You see, when Kim answered the phone, I was the one calling, and I was screaming, “Get back to the barn NOW!!!”

While trying to load our six-foot Bushhog onto a flatbed trailer with my tractor’s frontend loader, the 1,400 pound Bushhog slammed down on the four fingers of my right hand like a…

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If You’re Not Saying Wow, Then…

Boy was Mike ever excited! He found his first real estate investing deal; a property he planned to keep as a rental. Knowing that Kim and I loaned money to purchase investment homes, he gave me a call.

Mike’s contract was a gem of an opportunity – at least according to him. The seller told Mike that six other buyers were lined up with cash money. If Mike wasn’t able to close within a week, the seller would let another lucky stiff…errrr…I mean investor…have the home.

Mike explained that the house was built in 1955, had three bedrooms and one bath, needed a good bit of work, the neighborhood was okay but not great, and like-kind houses in the area rented for $800 per month. The seller told him the home’s fair market value was…

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September 10th North Georgia REIA Meeting


After 13 years, we’re closing our real estate investors group at the conclusion of December’s meeting. Our last four meetings will be one-of-a-kind, blow-your-mind fantastic!!!!

This month, Pete Fortunato will be our guest speaker. Pete is THE BEST creative deal structurer we’ve ever met. And he’ll be in Cartersville to share his 50 years of incredible real estate investing wisdom! And this will be the last time you’ll get to see Pete in this area!

What is it like to be around Pete? If you’re a pilot, it’s like watching the Wright Brothers fly. If you’re into physics, it’s like asking Albert Einstein questions. If you want your soul moved, it’s like listening to Martin Luther King speak. It just doesn’t get any better than Pete Fortunato!

What’s THE MOST important saying we’ve learned from Pete? “Why are you selling such a nice house like this?”

What’s THE MOST important lesson we’ve learned from Pete? “What box?” (At the meeting you’ll find out what this means!)

Pete is also outstanding at coming up with mind-bending quotes. Here are three:

It’s inconvenient to be physically alive but financially dead.

Opportunities are found. Deals are constructed. So don’t go out looking for deals. Instead, look for opportunities!

Every deal you do is a seed for another deal.

Pete has come up with lots of mind-bending-quotes over the years. I call these Pete-isms. Each one is a real brain-warper!

Why attend this meeting? It’s Pete Fortunato, for Pete’s sake! If you call yourself a real estate investor, there’s no one better to learn from.

Arrive at September’s meeting early to get the best seats. It will be a packed house!

Kim and I are bringing Pete to town to teach at our REIA on Thursday, and to teach his One Step Beyond seminar on Saturday and Sunday in Atlanta. Say you’re with North Georgia REIA and it’s only $350/person for his two-day seminar. (Find full seminar info on our website:

Remember: A good number of us…

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