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NOTABLE! AMA: Rehabbing & Flipping - Ask Me Anything

Matt Dassel

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JScott, thanks for this thread. It made things a bit more clear to me concerning this business. However I had one question though.

What is it that changes from flipping houses in the US to other countries? Can I still apply everything you did here in Brazil?
 

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IGP

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@JScott you ever use sites like Auction.com to find foreclosed or government auctions? Curious if you think that is helpful or if there is so many sharks already using that it's not worth it?

Or do you get " the first word" on a lot of deals you do having so many connections and experience?
 
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JScott, thanks for this thread. It made things a bit more clear to me concerning this business. However I had one question though.

What is it that changes from flipping houses in the US to other countries? Can I still apply everything you did here in Brazil?
Unfortunately, I've never invested out the US, so I can't give any credible information about how things work in other countries. Sorry...
 
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JScott

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@JScott you ever use sites like Auction.com to find foreclosed or government auctions? Curious if you think that is helpful or if there is so many sharks already using that it's not worth it?

Or do you get " the first word" on a lot of deals you do having so many connections and experience?
I've used Auction.com and other "auction" sites in the past. These days, you won't find too many REO (bank-owned foreclosure) deals that are any good, and this is the bulk of what these "auction" sites sell.

Note that these sites aren't really auctions (hence why I use quotes) -- they are lead-generation sites. They get you to bid, and the highest bidder is handed off to the seller, where the seller can accept the bid, decline the bid or negotiate the offer. You are essentially bidding to get yourself in front of the seller.

Though they don't advertise that, of course...
 
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IGP

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I've used Auction.com and other "auction" sites in the past. These days, you won't find too many REO (bank-owned foreclosure) deals that are any good, and this is the bulk of what these "auction" sites sell.

Note that these sites aren't really auctions (hence why I use quotes) -- they are lead-generation sites. They get you to bid, and the highest bidder is handed off to the seller, where the seller can accept the bid, decline the bid or negotiate the offer. You are essentially bidding to get yourself in front of the seller.

Though they don't advertise that, of course...
I've been following this one: https://www.auction.com/details/520-mount-everest-way-alpharetta-ga-30022-2564405-o_1189l

In a good location, as you know being familiar with Atlanta.

I would think the reserve has got to be 300K, what happens if they don't get that? Does it just re-list?

Median value in that area is about 460K according to the site report.
Dropbox - %adc%property-information-report%2564405%ADC_Property_Information_Report.v22.pdf

If you could get it for 300K and put 60K into it (total guess on my part), could make for a solid flip.
 

Naseem myles

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Given how often I still get contacted from people on this site, and given that I chronicled my very first real estate deal on this forum 5 years ago this month, I thought I'd take the time to come back and do an AMA (if anyone is interested, which they may not be :).

A little bit about me and my real estate experience/background:


  • My wife and I "semi-retired" from the corporate world 5 years ago and accidentally fell into real estate investing.
  • In the past 5 years, we've done nearly 60 rehabs (and just finished our first spec build), have earned over $1M in income from flipping houses and have earned over $2M in income from all real estate investing activities.
  • I've self-published two books on flipping houses -- while it changes hourly, "The Book on Flipping Houses" is currently Top 5 on Amazon in the Real Estate Investing category and "The Book on Estimating Rehab Costs" is currently Top 20 on Amazon in the Real Estate Investing category. (Unexpectedly, writing books has been almost as lucrative as investing in real estate!)
  • We've invested in three states and are currently relocating to a fourth state, where we're building our personal residence and will likely start doing the bulk of our future investing.
  • I run a website/blog called 123Flip.com where I've chronicled all of my deals in gory detail for the past 5+ years.

When I started my first project 5 years ago, my goal was to use systems and processes to create a mostly self-sustaining business flipping houses, where I wouldn't have to "get my hands dirty" doing rehab tasks or managing contractors. Many people (including some on this forum) said that it wasn't realistic, and that my lack of construction background and desire to be hands-off would ultimately not work out. These days, my wife and I work about 10 hours/week in our flipping business, and other than when we're breaking into new markets (which definitely takes a lot of time and hands-on effort), we are pretty much entirely hands-off of the actual day-to-day rehab work.

So, it's definitely possible to build a "real" business flipping houses.

Now, that said, based on my experience, I don't believe it's possible to be completely hands-off in this business, nor is it possible to create a passive income stream flipping houses (though it's possible that someone smarter than I am could figure it out). For me, at least, flipping houses will always be -- to some degree -- a job. But, if you don't mind working a few hours/week and are smart enough to roll your income into other investments that are more passive, you should be able to make enough money at this "job" to retire sooner rather than later.

Anyway, that's the quick background on me...if anyone has any questions I might be able to answer, fire away. I've spent the past 5 years trying to help others be successful in this business, and always happy to help any way I can...
Hey I'm 19 years old and I've been saving up capital to run with in real estate I currently live in Michigan and I just need a little help with my steps. What I have so far is to save up about 10k and go to neighborhood auctions to bud on a foreclose property. Once I get one I'll ne fixing it up and turning it into a fix and flip property selling to someone or back to the bank. I've been looking into different ways to buy real estate also like lease options but that has been a little unclear for me.
 
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JScott

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Bumping this thread, as I get a lot of emails from people here asking real estate questions. I'd rather just answer here on the forum so others can benefit from the information as well...

We're somewhere around 400 deals at this point -- single family, multi-family, rentals, flips, syndications, lending, partnering, wholesaling, etc. Happy to answer any questions!
 

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I'll post short one (if it wasn't asked already):
Why flipping and not renting out (main reason)?
(extra bonus for your answer as of 5 years ago vs now :) )
 
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I'll post short one (if it wasn't asked already):
Why flipping and not renting out (main reason)?
(extra bonus for your answer as of 5 years ago vs now :) )
I get this question a lot...

Without trying to sound obnoxious (that's certainly not my intent), asking, "Should I flip or buy-and-hold?" is no different than asking, "Should I have Chinese food for dinner or wash the car?"

The question doesn't make sense. Flipping is rentals serve two completely different purposes.

Flipping is a way of generating active income -- trading time for $$$. When considering whether you should flip houses, you should compare flipping to your other options for generating active income. For example, you might ask the question, "Should I flip or work a 9-5 job?" Or, "Should I flip or become a consultant?" Or, "Should I flip or start a business?"

Those questions make more sense.

Likewise, buy-and-hold is a way of generating passive income -- trading $$$ for an annuity stream of future $$$. When considering whether you should buy-and-hold houses, you should compare buying-and-holding real estate to your other options for generating passive income. For example, you might ask the question, "Should I buy-and-hold real estate or invest in dividend paying stocks?" Or, "Should I buy-and-hold real estate or lend money?" Or, "Should I buy-and-hold real estate or invest in bonds?"

Those questions make more sense.

But, flipping and buy-and-hold aren't alternatives. You can do both. Or neither.

I generally recommend having at least one or two active income streams. Flipping can be one of those.

I also generally recommend having at least four or five passive income streams. Buy-and-hold real estate can be one of those (or even more than one, if done correctly).

Long story short, instead of asking, "Flip or hold?" Instead ask, "What are my active income streams going to be -- do they include flip or not? And what are my passive income streams going to be -- do they include buy-and-hold or not?"

Does that make sense?
 

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Hey J, here's a question I have been pondering for a while.....

What, if any, would be the advantage of buying and holding/renting property vs hard money lending? Seems like holding property is a much bigger headache because of the management and having to get your numbers right. With a hard money loan, you hand over the cash and wait for the checks to come in. I understand that you risk missing out on appreciation, but appreciation doesn't always happen.
 

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JScott

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Hey J, here's a question I have been pondering for a while.....

What, if any, would be the advantage of buying and holding/renting property vs hard money lending? Seems like holding property is a much bigger headache because of the management and having to get your numbers right. With a hard money loan, you hand over the cash and wait for the checks to come in. I understand that you risk missing out on appreciation, but appreciation doesn't always happen.
Personally, I do both.

I like rental property over lending because:

- With a rental property, you only underwrite the deal. With lending, you have to underwrite both the deal *and* the borrower. In other words, there's an extra point of risk with lending than with rental property.

- With rental property, finding and underwriting a single deal can generate cash flow forever. With lending, the typical terms are no longer than 1-2 years, so you'll find that you need to continually market for deals (borrowers) and underwrite deals to keep the cash flow coming.

- With rental properties, your money works for you long-term, with little/no downtime. With lending, you typically have periods between deals where your money isn't working for you and is just sitting in the bank.

- With rental properties, you can boost your returns through leverage. It's difficult to borrow for lending in a way that will provide positive leverage.

I like lending over rental property because:

- These days, you'll get better returns on lending than you will on rental properties in most areas. Rentals are generating 6-10%; lending will generate 10-15% in most areas.

- Because most hard money loans tack on points upfront, you get a big boost to your IRR with lending. With rental properties, your cash-on-cash return is likely your IRR long-term; with lending, your IRR can be well above your interest rate due to those points.

- Lending is generally more passive than rentals. I have property management for my rentals, and haven't been to my properties in years, but I still have to answer emails and make decisions for the PM when something comes up. With loans, I generally have no contact with the borrower until the loan is ready to be repaid.

All that said, I do both. I like my rentals. And I like my loans. These days, to reduce risk from market shifts, most of my lending is to buy-and-hold investors. I make short term loans (6-12 months), which gives them enough time to purchase, renovate and fill their units, and then they refi me out. Worse case, if they can't refi or if the market crashes, they should still be generating cash flow from the rentals, so they should still be able to continue to pay me -- I just need to extend the loan.

I'm not lending to flippers anymore, as the risk is very high (in my opinion) due to potential market shifts over the next 6-12 months.
 

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@JScott thank you for your AMA.

I’m getting started with RE now. And had some questions on the way you look at yield for buy and hold. When you calculate your return on cash, what do you use as the base?

(Income - costs) / (value of property - outstanding mortgage)

Or

(Income - costs) / (Cash invested)

The reason I’m asking is that the leveraged returns I can get right now on new property that I can buy are maybe 7-8% at best. But in a few years expected rental increases should improve the returns on cash invested to 11% but the property value will increase too (There is a massive shortage of real estate in my country and due to government incompetence and over regulation that will stay that way for many more years.)

I’d also like to hear your thoughts on the returns I’ve estimated below:

I now have a property that’s unleveraged currently. Total spent on property is 245.000 and cash flow after costs is about 18.000 annually. It’s a 7.3% return. But value of property is around 280.000 - 300.000. Which would mean 6% return on value.

I can leverage it quite easily to get 11% on cash invested. Or 7,4% on value of property.

This is not counting maintenance or a manager. But usually a reservation of 1% of property value should cover maintenance in my country.

Do you think that’s reasonable return as a first buy and hold? Any advice on what I can look for to improve? Or should I look for opportunities outside of buy and hold residential to get better returns?
 
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JScott

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@JScott thank you for your AMA.

I’m getting started with RE now. And had some questions on the way you look at yield for buy and hold. When you calculate your return on cash, what do you use as the base?

(Income - costs) / (value of property - outstanding mortgage)

Or

(Income - costs) / (Cash invested)

The reason I’m asking is that the leveraged returns I can get right now on new property that I can buy are maybe 7-8% at best. But in a few years expected rental increases should improve the returns on cash invested to 11% but the property value will increase too (There is a massive shortage of real estate in my country and due to government incompetence and over regulation that will stay that way for many more years.)

I’d also like to hear your thoughts on the returns I’ve estimated below:

I now have a property that’s unleveraged currently. Total spent on property is 245.000 and cash flow after costs is about 18.000 annually. It’s a 7.3% return. But value of property is around 280.000 - 300.000. Which would mean 6% return on value.

I can leverage it quite easily to get 11% on cash invested. Or 7,4% on value of property.

This is not counting maintenance or a manager. But usually a reservation of 1% of property value should cover maintenance in my country.

Do you think that’s reasonable return as a first buy and hold? Any advice on what I can look for to improve? Or should I look for opportunities outside of buy and hold residential to get better returns?
You are talking about two different metrics:

1. Cash on cash return (COC): This is the simple return (not compounded) that you'll earn on the money invested into the project. Let's say you put $100,000 and at the end of the year -- after all expenses, all mortgages, all capital costs, etc. -- you walk away with $10,000 in profit (your cashflow), then your COC is:

$10,000 / $100,000 = 10%

Now, this is based purely on the cash you've taken out of your pocket and put into the deal. This doesn't factor in any mortgages or the value of the property. Doesn't matter if you purchased a $100,000 property for cash or purchased a $1M property with a 90% loan and $100,000 downpayment, the denominator in the equation is $100,000, as that was your investment.

2. Return on Equity (ROE): Return on equity is a measure of how well you're using all the resources in your real estate business to generate income. It's defined as the cashflow (for example, the $10,000 you had in profit in the example above) divided by the equity you have in the property. Let's say in your example above, the property was purchased for cash and is currently worth $500,000. Your ROE is:

$10,000 / $500,000 = 2%

Basically, you're not using your resources (the equity in your property) very efficiently. All of that equity isn't translating into very much profit.

Now, it's up to you to decide what level of COC and ROE you are striving for. In addition, there are other measures that may be important to you as well. The two most common are:

- Total Return: This is similar to the COC return, but adds in any equity you're receiving from the pay down of your mortgage each year. Since that mortgage pay down is cash in your pocket at the time you sell the property (or refinance), your annual benefit is often better than just what your COC indicates. This is the total return.

- Internal Rate of Return (IRR): This is the compounded return on your investment, and can take into account when your money is going in and when it's coming out. I think we'd agree that if you invest $100,000 into a property and can't get that money out for 10 years, that's less optimal from a return standpoint than if you could get that money out 6 months after you invested it. IRR takes this time component into account when telling you your return.

I can't tell you what COC, ROE, TR or IRR you might want to achieve. You need to figure out your goals and determine what level of returns will allow you to achieve those goals. For example, if you have $200,000 and want to retire in 10 years on $50,000 per year in income, your needed returns are going to be much different than if you had that same $200,000 and wanted to retire in 5 years with $150,000 per year in income.

I suggest figuring out where you want to get to (and when) and then working backwards to determine the returns you need to achieve it.
 

Joe Cassandra

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Hey Jason,

Thanks for bubbling this thread back to the top.

My wife and I are starting our real estate business after our third kid is born next month (so starting in August-ish).

So, currently I'm hoarding cash from my writing business and that's going well. Good credit to boot.

We're in Woodstock, GA (right outside ATL as you know), and I know you said the metro ATL is tough now for flippers, but we're not quitters :).

You mention in your book ("Flipping Houses") that direct marketing still works really well. That's great news as I write copy for a living, and am pretty confident in my abilities.

I'm curious, when we send out our mailings and get bites, does this strategy solely rely on all cash-offers? Curious as I'm sure I could get money from hard money lenders, but you also mention they like to see a good deal first.

Are you able to pitch homeowners that you can go all-cash before getting approval from a HML? Obviously not trying to 'trick' the homeowner, but curious if there is a fast timeline for HMLs enough to bring a deal to them and get it funded within 2 weeks. I'm sure that depends on the relationship with the HML.

Should I be spending a bunch of time right now rubbing shoulders with a lot of bankers? I've looked up the ATL REIA today and hope to maybe meet some investors too. But weighing all the options.

***Experience: Very little. We did a live-in flip in Texas and netted around $40k. Our house in Woodstock is also a live-in flip (but not planning on moving soon). We secured a LOC on our home to perhaps tap into for rehabs if necessary. I don't think you touched on in the book if that's a good idea or not.

Thanks for your AMA.
 

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When entering a real estate partnership with a friend, what do you believe are the important factors to consider/address to increase your chances of 1) financial success 1a) not wrecking your friendship
?
 

Kid

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I get this question a lot...

Without trying to sound obnoxious (that's certainly not my intent), asking, "Should I flip or buy-and-hold?" is no different than asking, "Should I have Chinese food for dinner or wash the car?"

The question doesn't make sense. Flipping is rentals serve two completely different purposes.

Flipping is a way of generating active income -- trading time for $$$. When considering whether you should flip houses, you should compare flipping to your other options for generating active income. For example, you might ask the question, "Should I flip or work a 9-5 job?" Or, "Should I flip or become a consultant?" Or, "Should I flip or start a business?"

Those questions make more sense.

Likewise, buy-and-hold is a way of generating passive income -- trading $$$ for an annuity stream of future $$$. When considering whether you should buy-and-hold houses, you should compare buying-and-holding real estate to your other options for generating passive income. For example, you might ask the question, "Should I buy-and-hold real estate or invest in dividend paying stocks?" Or, "Should I buy-and-hold real estate or lend money?" Or, "Should I buy-and-hold real estate or invest in bonds?"

Those questions make more sense.

But, flipping and buy-and-hold aren't alternatives. You can do both. Or neither.

I generally recommend having at least one or two active income streams. Flipping can be one of those.

I also generally recommend having at least four or five passive income streams. Buy-and-hold real estate can be one of those (or even more than one, if done correctly).

Long story short, instead of asking, "Flip or hold?" Instead ask, "What are my active income streams going to be -- do they include flip or not? And what are my passive income streams going to be -- do they include buy-and-hold or not?"

Does that make sense?
Thank you Scott for comprehensive response. Indeed i thought about one or the other as being better (from the other) for some reason.

It makes a lot of sense.
 
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Hey Jason,

Thanks for bubbling this thread back to the top.

My wife and I are starting our real estate business after our third kid is born next month (so starting in August-ish).

So, currently I'm hoarding cash from my writing business and that's going well. Good credit to boot.

We're in Woodstock, GA (right outside ATL as you know), and I know you said the metro ATL is tough now for flippers, but we're not quitters :).

You mention in your book ("Flipping Houses") that direct marketing still works really well. That's great news as I write copy for a living, and am pretty confident in my abilities.

I'm curious, when we send out our mailings and get bites, does this strategy solely rely on all cash-offers? Curious as I'm sure I could get money from hard money lenders, but you also mention they like to see a good deal first.

Are you able to pitch homeowners that you can go all-cash before getting approval from a HML? Obviously not trying to 'trick' the homeowner, but curious if there is a fast timeline for HMLs enough to bring a deal to them and get it funded within 2 weeks. I'm sure that depends on the relationship with the HML.

Should I be spending a bunch of time right now rubbing shoulders with a lot of bankers? I've looked up the ATL REIA today and hope to maybe meet some investors too. But weighing all the options.

***Experience: Very little. We did a live-in flip in Texas and netted around $40k. Our house in Woodstock is also a live-in flip (but not planning on moving soon). We secured a LOC on our home to perhaps tap into for rehabs if necessary. I don't think you touched on in the book if that's a good idea or not.

Thanks for your AMA.
A lot of it is going to depend on who you target with letters. Georgia is a non-judicial foreclosure state, and a homeowner can go from missing a mortgage payment to being foreclosed on in less than 120 days. So, if you're going to target homeowners who are behind on their mortgage, helping them out of a tough spot, you better have the ability to close quickly. This means either cash or a really good hard money lender that you already have a relationship with.

On the other hand, if you're focused on sellers who are under less time pressure (tired landlords, for example), you can probably pursue a more conventional type of financing and the seller wouldn't care -- as long as you have the ability to close on the promised schedule.

I always recommend figuring out your financing first (I wrote the book as a step-by-step guide, and that's why it's essentially the first chapter in the book). Once you figure out your financing, you can use that to determine what types of sellers/properties you're going to go after. For example, if you decide to go with conventional financing, you'll need to target properties in good shape, as conventional lenders aren't going to loan against distressed properties.

Does that make sense?
 
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Nail on the head, great read, especially the element of shared vision. Do you recommend writing these agreements down, from a legal context or otherwise?
Very much so. For a partnership that will involve assets (like real estate), I prefer to always have a business entity hold the asset and have the partners own an interest in the entity. This allows the agreement to be fortified as part of the entity, as opposed to just between the partners. That way, new partners can be added, partners can be removed, etc. -- without having to create new agreements or shift ownership of the asset in the process.

For example, I bought a small apartment complex a couple years ago with two investor friends. We had a pre-defined split of the investment/equity that worked well for a couple years. Then, one partner decided that he wanted to retire, and wanted to sell his equity to us, or to someone else. Because the process for doing this was well defined (there was no haggling over the value of the asset, whether a new partner could be brought in, etc), it was very easy. We created an amendment to the operating agreement, we wrote a couple checks and voila, the third partner was out and we had a new equity split with the remaining two partners.

Had we held the assets personally or without a business entity, there would have had to have been an attorney involved, deeds recorded, perhaps a new closing, tax reassessment of the property, transfer taxes perhaps, etc.
 

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Joe Cassandra

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A lot of it is going to depend on who you target with letters. Georgia is a non-judicial foreclosure state, and a homeowner can go from missing a mortgage payment to being foreclosed on in less than 120 days. So, if you're going to target homeowners who are behind on their mortgage, helping them out of a tough spot, you better have the ability to close quickly. This means either cash or a really good hard money lender that you already have a relationship with.

On the other hand, if you're focused on sellers who are under less time pressure (tired landlords, for example), you can probably pursue a more conventional type of financing and the seller wouldn't care -- as long as you have the ability to close on the promised schedule.

I always recommend figuring out your financing first (I wrote the book as a step-by-step guide, and that's why it's essentially the first chapter in the book). Once you figure out your financing, you can use that to determine what types of sellers/properties you're going to go after. For example, if you decide to go with conventional financing, you'll need to target properties in good shape, as conventional lenders aren't going to loan against distressed properties.

Does that make sense?
Makes a lot of sense, Jason thanks!

Sounds like finding a good HML is a priority. I have a good income and credit, so going the 'small bank' route is also a path for me. And you recommend it in the book.

However, it sounds like to close fast on a property, the only options are 1) My own cash 2) A private investor's cash or 3) An HML

Small banks (and obviously conventional loans) don't close fast.

Have you seen small banks close faster once you build a track record?

I was reading this 'real estate horror book' https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B019CXZP7I/?tag=tff-amazonparser-20
(only $1)

And one story was how the HML would agree to finance a deal, then go behind the 'real estate fish's' back and steal it from them.

The lesson was "lock up the deal." I'm guessing that means get something signed by the buyer such as a purchasing agreement?

I've joined over a dozen real estate groups in Atlanta on Facebook and looks like a lot of HML's hang out there, but sounds like there could be some wolves in sheep's clothing. But HML may be the only option especially to leverage my cash balance across a few deals.
 
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Have you seen small banks close faster once you build a track record?
Building a track record can reduce the amount of time it takes for the bank to underwrite YOU, but they will still spend a decent amount of time (at least 1-2 weeks) underwriting the deal/property. So, the time savings is marginal.

And one story was how the HML would agree to finance a deal, then go behind the 'real estate fish's' back and steal it from them.

The lesson was "lock up the deal." I'm guessing that means get something signed by the buyer such as a purchasing agreement?

I've joined over a dozen real estate groups in Atlanta on Facebook and looks like a lot of HML's hang out there, but sounds like there could be some wolves in sheep's clothing. But HML may be the only option especially to leverage my cash balance across a few deals.
Always lock up a deal before you give *anyone* the address, including your lender.

My one big rule with lenders is: Don't pay anything prior to closing, *other* than perhaps an appraisal fee. If a lender asks for an upfront fee (underwriting fee, application fee, or whatever they want to call it), RUN AWAY!
 

fishgodeep

Bronze Contributor
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Speedway Pass
Oct 11, 2015
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@JScott thanks for all the great information here and bumping the thread all these year later.

I have no questions for now as I have some of my own leg work to do first.

My goal is to have my first rental property closed and cash flow positive before my birthday in March.

Right now I'm in the process of raising capital through my J.O.B and researching the market I'm going to buy in (Edmonton, Canada).

I'll be sure to pick up your books, there's some great reviews on Amazon and the forum.

Thanks again,

Dan
 

Angal Faria

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May 1, 2019
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Dubai
Nice, see you guys. I love your work, thoughts, and discussion about real estate and think it help me a lot to start a real estate business.
 

YanC

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Sep 18, 2017
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Hello @JScott ,

First of all thank you so much for the value you provide on the forum.

I started rehabbing apartments a year ago. Not a bad start so far. I'm interested in 2 of your books: The Book on Estimating Rehab Costs & Recession-Proof Real Estate Investing.

I'm French and I invest in France. In your opinion, would the books make sense outside the American market ? I know real estate is kind of the same everywhere, and France being a developed western country, it's probably not that much different. But as they say, the devil's in the details, so just wondering... Old Europe isn't exactly built as the US. It seems to me that the French literature is not very well developed on the topic.
 
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Neng Her

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Speedway Pass
Aug 30, 2018
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Sacramento, ca
Hello JScott,

When you are scouting for real estate, is there a specific number of units you are looking for before considering?

Also I'm sure in your expertise negotiations are essential. I'm curious to what your opinion is on the straight line system by Jordan Belfort if any.
 

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