Invest for Success!

By Dr. Albert Lowry

You no doubt want to be a successful investor, but you need to know how to move beyond the wishing stage. I have some tips to help you get started and learn what to do to keep yourself on the right path. We’ll take a step-by-step look at how you too can go from just a dream of being a real estate entrepreneur, to having your own real estate portfolio that is your key to financial freedom for life.

First, you must set goals. Don’t just think about them, but instead put them in writing. The act of writing has the effect of making your goals more real and getting them into the subconscious part of your brain, so that they are always there in the background, motivating you.

Another important point to understand to prepare yourself for success, is that risks and sacrifices are involved. You already know that just about anything that has big potential rewards means that you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and this is no different.

Simply put, if you don’t make the effort, you won’t experience the reward. Here’s the level of effort that I suggest: at least one hour per day devoted to studying real estate investing concepts and their real-world applications.

On weekends especially, you have the opportunity to explore the real estate market in your own area by touring neighborhoods, looking at houses, networking with people, and building up a base of knowledge about prices, amenities, desirable areas, and more. You’ll sacrifice the time that you would have spent napping or watching TV, but the potential payoff is long-term financial independence for yourself and your family.

As I mentioned, there is risk involved. Any investment that can make money for you can also lose money. That’s a fact of life, but there are ways to tip the balance sharply in your favor. You can protect yourself by ensuring that contracts are written to your advantage, by paying attention to both what is in a contract, and also what’s not. It is imperative that you read and understand everything that is contained in the contract, including all clauses, and also foresee any contingencies that are not mentioned. You may even choose to have a real estate attorney to help you review property contracts to be sure that there are no “gotchas.”

Now, I promised that I would provide you with step-by-step instructions to Invest for Success. This is a quick thumbnail sketch of the 7 steps involved in the process and important points to know. You’ll tailor a plan for yourself, but this will give you a good start.

  1. Develop a simple plan. Keep your real estate portfolios local and plan to focus on single family homes at the beginning.
  2. Learn your market. We touched on this earlier because it’s important to know prevailing costs per square foot, develop the capability to assess quality, and have a good working knowledge of which amenities are desired in your area. That will give you the ability to spot bargains. Using a mentor who has succeeded in real estate investing can help you fast-track this process.
  3. Think like a businessperson. Like any business, you will want to buy at wholesale and sell at retail. You’ll make businesslike assessments of each property to determine whether it should be held for rental income or sold for resale profit.
  4. Learn to identify hidden bargains and act quickly. Acting quickly does not mean acting impulsively, though. You still will carefully structure your contracts with contingencies and the option to assign the contract, which will protect your interests and profit potential. If your plan is to flip, be sure beforehand that no “major surgery” on the property is required. Any improvements you plan to make should be visibly beneficial and have the potential of raising the rental price or the resale value.
  5. Learn landlording. Even if you plan to turn the task over to a professional management company, you still need to know the fundamentals of how to manage properties and tenants. Otherwise, how will you know whether a management company is doing a good job for you, or not?
  6. Establish trade accounts with companies such as building supply stores. This will enable you to save money, get into the loop with local tradespersons and other real estate professionals, and build your line of credit. It will also help you establish good bookkeeping, which gives you a sound basis for business decisions on your properties. I suggest keeping a daily log for your expenses. You’ll be glad you did when you’re doing your recording keeping, and at tax time.
  7. Borrow money for your investments. You can use banks, 50/50 partners, or private individuals. When you use seller-assisted financing, creative financing terms are often possible, such as shared future appreciation on the property or no-money-down deals.

In summary, decide what you’d like to do, and ensure that you have the proper knowledge and formula for success to make it happen. Remember that nothing at all happens for you unless you take action, so why not get started on your dream today?

Your partner in prosperity,

Dr. Albert Lowry

The Solution to the Investment Guru Gap

By Russ Keith

How did you get started in real estate investing?

Maybe someone else…a friend, family member…or even your spouse, was bitten by the property investing bug and you caught it.

Or maybe you were invited to a weekend property investing seminar and found yourself thrilled with all of the prospects for financial freedom that property investing holds.

There’s no doubt about it…investing in real estate can be a real life changer, but what happens when all of the energy and excitement you felt after the seminar begins to fade?

After all, investing in property is no cakewalk…if it were, everyone in the world would be doing it.

And as fun and educational as a property seminar can be, what happens when everyone packs up and goes home, and you’re left with the feeling of “what now?”

Maybe you start by watching the videos on the guru’s website. But what happens if confusion begins to set in after watching them? Or maybe you understand what you need to do, but you can’t get answers to specific questions about your market.

What do you do then?

More than just an education in investing

Through their investment meetup group called Crush It, REI Systems Academy founders Russ Keith and his wife Kim noticed a trend.

Some investors would come to the meetings for about 8 months or so, but then would simply disappear. When Russ called them up to find out how they were doing, he discovered these investors had run out of money or just got frustrated, disheartened and then quit.

When he drilled down further into what was going on, Russ discovered that once the “new” had worn off from the investment seminars these people had attended, they were left without a compass.

The videos, website and other material left by the property investing guru couldn’t really help the investors with the mental shift they needed to move from an “employee”  to a “business owner” mindset.

Nor could it address the particulars of the investors’ marketplace.

Filling the guru gap

REI Systems was created with the goal of filling in the gap between the education investors receive at property seminars and the day to day investment decisions every investor needs to make.

What makes REI Systems different?

Investors receive a real education in property investing, from real educators who have been teaching high school and university level students for more than two decades!

Russ and Kim have also flipped properties for nearly 30 years, earning between $14,000 and $80,000 profit on each homestead flip.

How does it work?

You’ll meet with Russ and up to 9 other investors in a classroom setting once a week for three hours over a 16 week period. At the end of each class you’ll be given homework and told what to do, step by step.

If you have any questions between sessions, Russ is always available to help. He’ll answer your question(s) and if he thinks it can help the rest of the class he’ll share the information with them at the next class.

When you begin putting your knowledge to the test, Russ will be there every step of the way. He’ll even walk with you as you inspect a potential investment property.

In fact, if Russ hasn’t heard from you in a while you can expect to receive a phone call to find out what’s going on.

Your success is that important!

Bottom line, you can pay tens of thousand of dollars for one 30 minute call a week and a bunch of videos with a travelling investment guru, or spend much, much less and be mentored by local investors – and educators – who know the market and know what it takes to succeed in that market.

It’s your call.



Property Value: The Capitalization Approach

By Dan Harkey

When arranging a loan or investing in real estate, understanding the use of capitalization approach (“Cap Rates”) is critical to the decision-making. This subject is important to commercial realtors, lenders, developers, and investors.

Definition of Capitalization Rate (Cap Rate)

Cap Rates represent the ratio of Net Operating Income (“NOI”) to the property asset value (NOI / Value = Cap Rate). The income capitalization approach does not consider whether the property is free and clear with no debt service. NOI is simply gross rents, less a vacancy allowance, less operating expenses. If you have similar properties with similar characteristics in a similar geographical location that have recently sold in arm’s length cash transactions, you can calculate the comparison cap rates. Also, cap rates may vary, even in the same geographic location, depending upon the multiple types of properties.  Examples are, Class A vs Class C office, industrial, apartments, new modern styles with amenities vs older dated properties.  Additionally, the strength of the tenancy from national credit tenants with long term leases, vs a mom and pops’ month to month tenancy would result in a different cap rate. Most likely the mom and pop tenancy would reflect a higher cap rate. An exception would be where the national credit tenant locks a lease/rental rate that does not increase as the market dictates or anticipates, reflecting what is referred to as below market rent. The mom and pop, on the other hand, could be converted to a market lease relatively quickly, by either acquiring a new tenant or by renegotiating the lease with a higher rent

Market rents should be used rather than actual rents.  In most cases, actual rents are lower. When there is a lease up period, such as with new construction of an income producing property, future cash flows need to be estimated to the point of income stabilization, then the future stabilized income is discounted, utilizing an estimate of a capitalization rate, and a discount rate. Work with a good appraiser on this?

Once the market Cap Rate has been determined, you can apply it to the NOI and cap rate analysis of the property under consideration to indicate the probable market value.

At this point, I want to credit competent commercial appraisers, who can assist us to find the correct Cap Rate. I would not try to do it myself, without the assistance of an appraiser with local experience.

Let’s say for example that: The market Cap Rate for a commercial property with triple net leases (“NNN”) has been determined to be 6.5%. The 10,000 square foot multi-tenant property under consideration generates monthly rents of $1.50 per foot. After applying a 10% vacancy collection and loss factor and expenses of 5% for management and reserves, the NOI is $153,900.

10,000 sf X $1.50 = $5,000 Per mo. X 12 Mos. = $180,000 gross income

$180,000 – $18,000 10% vac. = $162,000 – $8,100 5% exp. = $153,900 NOI

$153,900 NOI / .065 Cap Rate = $2,367,692 asset value

From an investment standpoint Cap Rates can also indicate a prevailing rate of return before debt service and can help a lender/investor to measure both return on invested capital and profitability based on cash flow. An informed lender/ investor should understand that there may be dramatic variations in a property’s value when unsupported or unrealistic Cap Rates are applied.

Why do we use Cap Rates?

The capitalization approach is used as a “comparative method” of valuing property based on similar geographic locations, similar properties, and similar risks that would yield a comparable rate of return. Once the value is established, the loan to value ratio can be calculated to determine if it falls within loan underwriting guidelines.

Of course, Cap Rates are only one metric. They represent a snapshot of the market at the time of investment and they do not take debt service or financing costs into consideration. Therefore, if a borrower is going to finance his investment, as most people do, then further analysis such as cash on cash return would be useful. Sophisticated loan underwriters and investors will also do an Internal Rate of Return calculation. These calculations assist in establishing that the collateral property is not only income producing but a worthwhile investment.

Cash on Cash Return

Cash on cash return is a quick analysis that can be done to determine the yield on an initial investment. It is developed by dividing the total cash invested (the down payment plus initial cost), or the net equity into the annual pre-tax net cash flow.

Assume the borrower purchased the property which costs $1,200,000 and provides an NOI of $100,000, with a $400,000 down payment representing the equity investment in the project. The cash on cash return for this property would be:

$100,000 / $400,000 = 25%

If the borrower were to purchase the property for all cash, his cash on cash return would be:

$100,000 / $1,200,000 = 8%

It is clear from this formula that leveraging or financing real estate transactions will yield a higher cash on cash return, provided the transaction is financed at a favorable interest rate.

Internal Rate of Return

The internal rate of return (“IRR”) refers to the yield that is earned or expected to be earned for a given capital investment over the period of ownership. The IRR for an investment is the yield rate that equates the present value of the future benefits of the investment to the amount of capital invested.  The IRR applies to all expected benefits, including monthly and yearly cash flow and the proceeds from resale at the termination of the investment. It can be used to measure the return on any capital investment, before or after income taxes. Ideally, the IRR should exceed the cost of capital.

Is there an ideal Cap Rate?

Each growth/investor should determine their own risk tolerance that will reflect the ideal for their portfolio. A lower Cap Rate means a higher property value.  A lower Cap Rate would mean that the underlying property is more valuable but that it may take longer to recapture the investment. Whichever Cap Rate is targeted will represent the annual return overtime (before financing costs and taxes) an investor can expect to make on the investment at the time the property is acquired. If investing for the long term one might select properties with lower Cap Rates. If investing for cash flow, look for a property with a higher Cap Rate. It’s valuable to look at historical Cap Rates and Cap Rate trends on the specific property type in a specific geographical location. Declining Cap Rates may mean that the market for your property type is heating up. A Cap Rate that is either at the top of the range or at the lower end of the range is likely to change and it may be wise to adjust the analysis and/or investment strategy accordingly. And make certain, when comparing Cap Rates, to compare the same geographical locations and property types, apartments to apartments.  For Cap Rates to remain constant on any given investment, the rate of asset appreciation and the increase of NOI it produces will occur in tandem and at the same rate.

Below are examples of the affect changes in NOI and/or Cap Rates on asset values:

As NOI increases and Cap Rates remain the same, asset value increases.


$300,000 / .06 = $5,000,000

$350,000 / .06 = $5,833,000

$400,000 / .06 = $6,666,666

$450,000 / .06 = $7,500,000

The effect on Asset Value when the Cap Rate varies.


$500,000 / .03 = $10,000,000

$500,000 / .04 = $ 8,333,333

$500,000 / .05 = $ 7,142,857

$500,000 / .06 = $ 6,250,000

Cap rates are driven by property type, geographic location and market sentiment. During the recent recession, as property values fell, Cap Rates increased dramatically for some property types in certain areas of the country. The improving economy has reversed that trend.

Correlation Between Cap Rates and US Treasuries  

The US Ten Year Treasury Note (“UST”) is deemed to be the risk-free investment against which returns on other types of investments can be measured. Interest rates on UST have been on a broad decline for many years but have recently began to rise.  There is now concern that as interest rates begin to rise, so will Cap Rates will rise and consequently there may be reduction in asset values over time? With so many uncertainties in the market, and growth projections constantly being revised, the spread between UST and Cap Rates have not remained constant.

Also, the discussion of the above, affect of cap rates resulting from artificially low interest rates, inflationary expectations, and anticipated increased interest rates need to be discussed in another article.


Cap Rates are a good starting point in analyzing a property’s value, but they should not be the only analysis. It is prudent to look at the cash on cash return and the internal rate of return as well. Factors such as changes in NOI, vacancy rates, and changes in neighborhood property values are just a few other considerations. Also recognize, that Cap Rates may vary widely in different geographic areas. Property appreciation, perhaps one of the greatest reasons for investing in real estate, is not part of the Cap Rate calculation. For investors, the tax benefits of owning commercial real estate may, in and of themselves, be the driving force to make such an investment. If the property is to be leveraged, then there may be write-offs for loan fees, interest expense, depreciation and investment expenses. Taking all these factors into account can help achieve the basis for making a sound business decision.

As interest rates go up, will this automatically cause Cap Rates to rise, and values to go down. Not necessarily in the short term. Remember that increased debt service based upon higher interest rates is not considered in the capitalization approach.  But, over time as interest rates go up, borrowers will feel the sting of higher debt service payments.  Some property transactions may become less appealing financially.  As purchasers and borrowers elect not to purchase, that may compound and create more unsold inventory.  Some sellers may get desperate and reduce price to sell quicker.  The lowered price would result in an increased cap rate.  On a macro level, this could result in lowering all real estate prices.

How dramatic can lowered real estate prices be over time? As we witnessed 10 years ago that the contagion effect could spread and result in dramatically lower values, and substantially increased Capitalizations Rates.

Dan Harkey is a business and private money financial consultant. I have been active in the real estate and financial services industry since 1972. I have taught courses on private money lending and underwriting of commercial/industrial properties at over 350 educational seminars. This and many other articles I have written are available to read on my website

You may also reach me at my office (949) 521-7115 or by e-mail at you can also find me LinkedIn.

Dan J. Harkey

Business and Private Money Lending Consultant

Mobile: 949.533.8315

Office: 949.512.7115

 The article is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a solicitation


Molding a Million Dollar Marketing Mind Set

By Kathy Kennebrook (The Marketing Magic Lady)

When you are getting started in the real estate business, I know that putting a solid marketing plan in place is going to be one of your first priorities. This will be the main strategy that will separate you from your competition.

Decide what your focus is going to be regarding the type of properties you initially would like to purchase in your Real Estate Investing business and create a plan of action that will begin to bring in motivated sellers in droves and create deals for you. If you don’t know what exit strategies to use, make getting educated one of your top priorities. Getting a good education in the buying and selling of real estate will quickly separate you from most of your competition. You can check out my website at for some really powerful tools for your Real Estate Investing business.

Don’t be afraid to do what those around you will not. Dare to be different and consistent in your marketing efforts and the results will be amazing. Niche your marketing and become an expert in your market place. Become educated within your market place so you know what your property values are and what your personal target market is going to be.

The first step that I take is to find out what my real estate market is doing. Are there a lot of pre-foreclosures? Do you live near a military base where a lot of people are being transferred? Are you in an area where there are a lot of ugly houses you can purchase inexpensively and then wholesale? Have you run demographics to find out what kind of income levels there are within your market area? Is the market slow and are there a lot of houses for sale?

If this is the case, then you know that it is a buyer’s market and there are a lot of good deals to be had. You just have to learn to be a little more creative in the way you sell your properties. If there are very few houses for sale and they are high priced, then it is a seller’s market and you need to adjust your marketing strategies accordingly. This is all part of discovering your niche within your market. Don’t allow yourself to be influenced by various advertisers or those who profess to be real estate experts in your area, take the time to discover what works best for you in your marketplace and stick with it.

The next step I suggest is to figure out what your marketing budget is and which marketing strategies will reach the highest number of sellers within your budget. For example, your budget may include signage, business cards, direct mail, flyers, ads, websites or a combination of all of these.

You should always have between three and five marketing strategies in place at any given time so you are reaching the largest segment of your market in a variety of ways. This way a higher number of potential sellers will see your message. For example, you may reach sellers by using direct mail that would never see your message in any other way.

I continue to test and track my results just as you should so you can make sure the marketing dollars you spend bring in the highest number of quality leads. If necessary drop the things that don’t work well and put that money back into the marketing techniques that are working well for you.  This is also how you will learn which marketing strategies work best for you.

Track your real estate market changes so you can change your marketing accordingly as you go along. Using this strategy in your real estate investing business will assure that you always have the highest number of quality leads possible coming in. More quality leads mean more deals and more dollars coming into your business.

Be aware of the special problems of your market. Are there a lot of layoffs? Are there a lot of folks who are part time residents? Is yours a very high end market with a lot of luxury homes? Discover these special differences and market directly to these folks. Figure out what it is that everyone before you has done and then you do it differently. Believe me when I tell you that this one strategy alone can make you big profits in your business.

For example, in my market almost no one does direct mail on a consistent basis, so I have made this my personal niche. By doing this, there is virtually no competition for properties whatsoever. Figure out what your niche is by figuring out what your competition is not doing and do more of it yourself. We created specific direct mail campaigns targeting specific sellers who are more likely to work with us. Then we send out our message on a residual basis and watch the deals continue to come in.

Make sure you take the time to begin to build your dream team along the way. These are the people who are going to be helping you to locate deals and get them closed and then sold. This is how you make huge profits in the real estate business, by surrounding yourself with team players who want to see you make money so they can make money as well. There are many ways to use your vendors as “bird dogs” to find deals for you that you have virtually no marketing cost in whatsoever until you actually purchase the deal. At that point you would probably want to pay them a finder’s fee. This is a good way to keep them motivated to help you find even more deals.

I suggest that you make sure that you take a portion of the profit from each deal that you do, especially in the beginning, and put it back into your marketing so you can continue to grow your business. At the point at which you decide you have enough deals coming in each month, you will be able to determine exactly what your monthly marketing budget needs to be in order to bring in the number of deals that works for you.

Remember to set specific goals for your business and yourself and strive to meet those goals each and every day. By doing this, you are planting seeds of success for today and for your future. You won’t be able to see a clear picture regarding where you began or where you are going unless you do this. This is one way to keep focused and keep your business on track.

For everything you need to know about locating motivated sellers, buyers and lenders for your real estate investing business and creating a business plan to buy and sell properties quickly, visit Kathy Kennebrook’s web site at While you are there be sure and sign up for our FREE monthly newsletter!

Kathy Kennebrook

Kathy Kennebrook is the ultimate success story. She spent over 20 years in the banking industry before discovering the world of real estate. After attending some real estate seminars this 4 foot 11 mother of two got really excited and before you know it she’d bought and sold hundreds of properties using none of her own money or credit.

Kathy holds a degree in finance and has co-authored the books- The Venus Approach to Real Estate Investing, Walking With the Wise Real Estate Investor, and Walking With the Wise Entrepreneur which also includes real estate experts Suze Orman, Robert Kiyosaki, and Dr. Wayne Dyer.

She is the nation’s leading expert at finding highly qualified, motivated sellers, buyers and lenders using many types of direct mail marketing. She is known throughout the United States and Canada as the Marketing Magic Lady. She has put together a simple step-by-step system that anyone can follow to duplicate her success.

Kathy has been speaking throughout the country and across Canada for over 14 years and has shared the stage with Ron LeGrand, Dr. Phil, Dan Kennedy, Mark Victor Hansen, Ted Thomas and Suze Orman to name a few.

Kathy is going to share with you how she generates a seven figure income by mailing a handful of letters throughout the year to highly selected targets by knowing exactly what to send them, who to send them to and exactly how to deliver her message. She will teach you the secrets of pre-screening and automating your marketing and follow up systems to put your entire Real Estate business on auto-pilot.


8 Simple Steps To Riches In Real Estate Or In Any Other Field, For That Matter

By Reggie Brooks


Before I got involved with real estate I tried various other potential money-making ventures.  I created a company called Advanced Video Productions, and spent the first 4 weeks designing the all important ‘logo’.  I might have thought that my income was totally dependent on a well designed, slick logo. I hadn’t learned anything about time management yet.

I created another company that sold satellite systems. This was way back when satellite dishes were huge.  They could have been mistaken for UFO’s.  My  success?  I sold 1 satellite system, period.  And that one system was sold to a friend.  I hadn’t learned anything about marketing. 

Another time, I got involved with a Multi Level Marketing group and ended up with a garage full of water filters.  Well, it really seemed like a good idea at the time…..

Through the many successes and failures that I’ve either experienced over the years or witnessed others experience, I’ve identified 8 steps you can take that can put you on the fast track to wealth.  These are  simple, powerful steps that really work!!

The 3 Cornerstones Of Success

I’ve taken a lot of seminars and classes over the years, and I’ve learned that personal and financial growth requires an investment. You must be willing to invest your money and your time. Then you must make a commitment to discipline yourself. What good is having a superior knowledge  of creative real estate if you don’t discipline yourself to use it?  Many successful real estate investors have invested many thousands of dollars in their creative real estate education.  Their libraries are bulging with books, tapes, CD’s, DVD’s, and any other form of media necessary to put money-making techniques into their heads.  They understand the power of “The 3 Cornerstones Of Success”.

The 3 Cornerstones Of Success are like a 3 legged stool. As long as there are 3 legs, the stool will support your weight. However, if you loose just 1 of those 3 legs, you’ll crash to the floor.  This is a perfect parallel to the 3 Cornerstones Of Success.

  1. The 1st Cornerstone Of Success is continued education. As successful investors, we make our money buying distressed property from motivated owners. In order to do that, we must learn how to creatively solve the problems that owners have with their properties.  None of us were born with this creative knowledge. We have to invest our money and our time into our education, and we have to learn the smart, money-making principles and techniques.  Then, we use these smart, money-making principles and techniques as tools to creatively structure win-win deals. This is why we continue to read books, listen to tapes, and take classes.  This brings us to the 2nd Cornerstone Of Success.
  1. The 2nd Cornerstone Of Success is discipline. You must discipline yourself to use the smart, money-making  principles and techniques that you’ve learned.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to spend 15 hours each day to work your business.  It could mean that you simply discipline yourself to write that offer, or send that letter out, or talk to that owner or neighbor, or anything else that you been procrastinating about.  So much of the time we’re so close to success, but we give up just before we achieve it.  Most of the time we give up because it is to scary or to painful to proceed on.  Anticipating an owner who says no instead of yes can be both scary and painful.  Dig down as deep as you need to and find that spark of passion that you can use to generate the discipline that you need.  Use it like a magic carpet to fly above the pitfalls to success.
  1. The 3rd cornerstone is productive action on a daily basis. You must continue to learn, you must discipline yourself to use what you’ve learned, and now you must put it to work on a daily basis.  It may be that the productive action of the day may only take 15 or 20 minutes. Success comes to the person who has made him/herself worthy of the success that they seek.  And you make yourself worthy by following the 3 Cornerstones Of Success.  Then, you’re prepared whenever opportunity comes along.

People sometimes ask me, “Come on, Reggie, tell me”.  “What’s the secret to being successful in real estate”? There is no one individual ‘secret’  that will make you an instant millionaire in real estate.  It’s more of a matter of doing a whole lot of little things correctly that empowers us to create a tremendous wealth.   Doing smart things systematically toward your goal every day will breathe life into the 3 Cornerstones Of Success.  There is nothing on this earth that can stop you if you simply follow the 3 Cornerstones Of Success. Here are a few other ideas that can help you to achieve your own level of success.

  1. Don’t Take Your Financial Advice From Broke People

When I first got involved in real estate, I let everyone know that I was launching into a new career.  I told them that I was studying courses on how to perform creative real estate deals that would make me rich.  I told them I was learning  about no money down deals, how to get owner financing, how to rehab to increase profits, and so much more.  I was so excited about my new real estate career that I had real trouble shutting up about it.  As a matter of fact, I think that I got a little cocky.  I’d tell anyone who would listen to me about the wealth that I was going to build in real estate.

I finally realized that I was sharing my excitement with the wrong people.  I was sharing my dreams with people who had no respect for them.  They would find ways to tell me that my dreams would never work. “There’s no such thing as a win-win deal”.  “When someone wins, someone else has to loose.”  They also said things like, “You can’t do no money down deals because there’s got to be some money in the deal someplace”.  They never stopped to think that the money doesn’t have to come from you.  It can come from the seller, the lender, the realtor, from private sources, or a great number of other places. It doesn’t have to come from your pocket.

This is when I realized just how important it is to share your ideas with the right people, and not the wrong people.  Share your ideas with other investors or students who are of like mind – either doing deals and making money or learning and growing in creative real estate education.  If you share your dreams with people who are not educated or not experienced in creative real estate techniques,  you leave yourself wide open for opinions.  When you get opinions from people that you respect, you have a tendency to believe them.  This can be especially hazardous for new investors.

Always ask yourself the question, “By what authority does this person give me this advice.  Has he/she been trained in this field?  Has he/she worked in this field and made money?”  If the answers are no, don’t listen to him/her.  No matter how much you love or respect the person, you have to protect your financial future from well meaning people who are not qualified to give you financial guidance.

If you have a new born baby, you wouldn’t dare even think about exposing that baby to the harsh elements that could make your baby sick.  You wouldn’t leave your new born baby outside in the rain or the snow.  You wouldn’t leave your baby in the heat of the sun, or with unsavory characters as baby sitters.  Treat your new real estate business just as you would your new born baby.  Expose your baby to the people who can help it grow big and strong, but keep it away from those who will do it harm.  And the difficult part is that for the most part, our uninformed friends don’t mean any harm.  But if you let their unfounded opinions influence you, it can be fatal to your business.

If you will continue to learn the right things – the things that create win-win situations between you and the owner – the things that make you money, now you’re ready for the next lesson.

  1. Don’t Get Greedy

My friend and mentor, Dr. Albert Lowry tells his students that it’s OK to be a bit of a pig (I call it good negotiating). It’s OK to structure a deal where you make a lot of money.  But don’t be a hog. You can blow a good deal by trying to hog all the profits. Don’t forget about the seller’s needs.  Dr. Lowry says, “Pigs get rich, but hogs get slaughtered”.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?  Keep this phrase in mind.  We’re going to talk about a principle that was so important in changing my life.  As we discuss this principle, keep in mind that you can get rich faster by doing a lot of $20K to $30K deals than holding out for that big $100,000 deal. So, without further ado, I present to you “The Win Principle”.  Caution: This principle works best when used with The 3 Cornerstones Of Success, which we talked about earlier. Here’s how it works:

The “WIN”  Principle stands for “What’s Important Now”.  Once you’ve educated yourself in creatively investing in real estate, you’ll know what you should be doing at any given time.  Whether it’s using what you’ve already learned, or, if you’re a little short on knowledge, maybe taking in a seminar, workshop, bootcamp, or listening to books and tapes.  It may be that you need to take a break, or the rest of the day off, or even a vacation.  Whatever it may be – you know deep inside exactly what you should be doing at any particular time.

If you will discipline yourself to do What’s Important Now, you WILL accomplish your financial goals.  What do you want?  Do you want to be rich??  You can be rich!!  If you will diligently exercise the 2 principles that I’ve outlined above, you will accomplish your financial goals!!!  Does it sound easy?  It does to me.  I think it’s a simple thing to do, but it’s certainly not an easy thing to do.

  1. Failing To Screen Your Sellers

As investors, we make our money when we buy property from motivated sellers.  I had to find that out the hard way.  Very early in my career I found an little old lady that lived in a huge old house in Hollywood, California.  Her name was Alice Jordan and she was part of a big mailing campaign that I was working at the time. When she responded to one of my letters, it felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest an on to the floor!!  My  palms were sweaty, and my voice trembled.  She said that she wanted to sell her house!!  We immediately made an appointment to meet at her house the very next day.

It was sheer agony having to wait until the next day to meet with the lady in the big house.  The thoughts running through my head were non-stop!  Will she contact someone else?  Will someone else contact her?  Maybe a family member.  What if she changes her mind?  Am I really ready for this?  This is a huge step!  What if it doesn’t work?  What if I fail?  I don’t want to loose any money.   Does any of this sound familiar to you?  I think we all suffer with Uncontrollable Thought Syndrome.  There’s nothing like doing a good deal and making yourself $20,000 to $40,000 to make all those negative thoughts disappear.  You might still have those uncontrollable thoughts running through your head, but they’ll be a little different.  Let’s see, I wonder if we should go to the Bahamas, or if we should go to Hawaii?  Should I go for the Mercedes, or should I go for the BMW?

Back to the little old lady.  For three weeks, we went back and forth.  Every time I thought we were close, she’d throw some garbage into our deal that would bring negotiations to a halt.  Then I’d call her after a few days, we’d reach what I thought was an agreement, and we would resume.   This would happen over and over.  You’d think I’d have gotten a clue about this one, but I didn’t.

I happened to be talking with a friend who was a fellow investor, and I mentioned Ms. Jordan, the lady that I was dealing with, and how frustrated I’d become.  He looked at me with a little sly smile on his face.  He said, “You mean Alice Jordan”?  I said yes.

Needless to say, I was stunned.  The uncontrollable thoughts started again.  I quickly took control by feebly asking, “Uh, how do you know Ms. Jordan”?  His answer cut like a knife.  “Everybody knows old Alice.  She gets lonely and calls on someone’s newspaper ad or direct mail piece.  That’s how she entertains herself.  She never leaves the house.’

I was crushed.  I was merely an old lady’s entertainment.  Everyone else knew about Ms. Jordan. I didn’t.  My friend even called her by her first name!!  That’s when I learned how important it is not to waste time on sellers that are not motivated.  By the time you make an offer based on your profit criteria and you get a counter offer back from the seller, you’ll know whether  you have a motivated seller or not.

  1. Lack Of Focus

There are so many different ways to make money in real estate.  You can buy, fix up and sell.  You can buy and hold for cash flow.   You can wholesale to other investors.  Come to think of it, you can even make money without ever owning the real estate.  You can buy mortgages, and you can lend money and charge hefty interest rates.  And this is just to name a few.  It’s easy to see how a new investor can jump from one strategy to another.  A new investor is usually excited about the prospect of getting money worries out of the way, and as a result they’re usually more than just a little impatient.  The expectations are high, but the patience is low.

Success in real estate investing is directly dependent on your ability to take action, analyze your results, make your adjustments and take action again.  It’s a sweet little cycle that you use to get rich.  A success cycle, if you will.  The best way to capitalize on this cycle is to focus on a system that is simple and easy to work, like Creating Wealth With Abandoned Properties.  As you begin to work your system of choice, make sure you continue to learn from your results while you fine tune and tweak your business.  This is how you become a master of your investment system.  This is how you get RICH!!

You must stay focused on your goals.  I read a book that my wife gave me when we first got together, called the Peak To Peak Principle.  This was another one of those life changing experiences.  I say experience because that’s what it was.  It wasn’t just ‘reading a book’.  It was the experience of learning a principle that could help make me rich.

Here’s how the Peak To Peak Principle works.  Visualize yourself as a mountain climber doing what you do – climbing a mountain.  If  your goal is to reach the top of this mountain, then you’ll do well to keep your focus on your goal – the peak of this mountain.  However, if your goal is to conquer other peaks then, before you reach this peak, you must shift your focus to the next peak.  If you don’t shift your focus, you allow the first peak that you reach to become a plateau.  It will take a lot of energy to get your momentum moving in the right direction again. 

When you relate this principle to your real estate business, your plateau becomes a comfy little haven where you’ll find yourself sitting and relaxing.  You might eat a sandwich, read a book, or listen to the radio.  You might be so comfortable that you decide to spend the night, or the week, or the month, or the rest of your life.

Since you have your momentum going in the right direction, go with the flow.  If you apply the Peak To Peak Principle to your real estate business, you can get to your goals a lot faster.

I THINK WE’VE JUST FOUND THE SECRET TO GETTING RICH!!   It’s a matter of learning these and other ‘wealth-building’ principles and using discipline to operate my real estate business under those principles.  For the first time, I can see the how of getting rich!

Having the scientific type mind that I have, that just made this revelation even more powerful.  I can actually see in my mind’s eye exactly how I’m going to get rich!!  I floated around on cloud 9 for a long time after that.  As a matter of fact, I’ve never come down, and I never will.  It’s almost like having a ‘secret weapon’ that most other investor don’t know much about.  Learning and using the wealth-building principles can give you the edge over your competitors.

  1. Managing Your Fears

Every human being on the face of the planet has experienced fear in some form or another.  I’d even be willing to bet you that every animal, insect, rodent, and every winged creature as well, has experienced fear.  Fear definitely has a useful place in our lives.  It’s purpose is as a early warning system.  To alert us about possible dangers so that we can modify our path and create a solution to eliminate the danger. Fear was never meant to scare us into non-action.

Here’s an interesting idea.  I believe that there is a purpose for every living creature on earth.  Beavers build dams, humans solve problems.  If you take a careful look around, you’ll see a whole lot of stuff that was created by the human species.  If you look deeper, you’ll find that the purpose of each one of these inventions was to solve a problem.

It has been said that we learn better by doing, rather than by reading.  In other words, at some point, you’re going to have to get out there and get your feet wet – you’re going to have to get started.  I know, I know…  It’s scary.  Whenever you launch into something so big and significant that it can change your life, you’re going to get a little scared.  Here’s a good way to handle your fears:

This solution to handling your fears is so simple that even I was able to master it.  First of all, arm yourself with an abundance of knowledge about the situation.  Be careful not to over-analyze the situation.  You only need enough facts to make an intelligent decision.  If you have a fear of writing your first offer, you may have to pick up a book, or take a seminar.  You might have to make a bunch of copies and practice writing offers. Do what ever you have to do in order to arm yourself with the knowledge that you need.  Then, keeping the WIN principle in mind, you simply take action.  Isn’t that simple?  It really is.  The one antidote for fear is action.  Intelligent, systematic action will not only make fear disappear, it can also make you rich.

Sometimes we have a certain type of fear that robs us of an important part of our growth.  We’re afraid of making mistakes.  Even though we’ve only been involved in real estate for 5 minutes, we have this crazy notion that we shouldn’t make mistakes.  After all, we did take that 1 ½ hour seminar last year, we should be rich by now.  If you have a problem admitting and accepting mistakes, you’re missing out on one of the greatest tools that you could have in the creation of wealth.

I was in my early 20’s when a 17 year old kid taught me something that will be with me for the rest of my life.  He taught me that mistakes are our friends.  He said that every mistake that we make has within it a lesson for us to learn.  Some people are so busy trying not to make mistakes that they totally miss the lessons in the mistakes that they do make.  By learning these lessons, then making the correct adjustment in our paths to success we can get to our goals at a very fast rate of speed.

What if you were able to look into the future.  You might see that, in order for you to become a millionaire, it will take you making 175 mistakes, learning the lessons in each of those mistakes, applying those lessons to your business, and moving on to the next mistake.  You might find yourself jumping out of bed and hurrying to meet the day!  You can’t wait to make the next series of mistakes, because you know that at the end of your mistake making, lesson learning day, you’ll be closer to your goals!  If you only made 5 mistakes yesterday, you’re going to kick it up today.  You’ll make 10 mistakes today!!  And, by the time you learn your lessons and apply the changes, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can be very far along in reaching your goals.

You’re A Winner – Read On, And I’ll Prove It To You!

Always remember the winner that you are!  You came into this world to create.  So, create!!  You have an ability within you to create whatever solution you need to overcome whatever problem that you think is standing in your way.  If you will follow the principles that I’ve outlined in this article, you can do much to accomplish every one of your financial goals.

You are a winner. Remember?  Three and a half million sperm chasing one egg.  You won!  You’re here!  That’s evidence of the winner in you.  Peace and prosperity to you and your family.


Reggie Brooks, is an international speaker, author and educator, dedicated to inspiring others to achieve personal success through real estate investment. He is also the #1 Vacant, Abandoned & Distressed Property Specialist in North America.

Having risen above a life of poverty, he has achieved what many people consider to be impossible. He went from making $36,000 per year at the local telephone company, to making over $40,000 per month in his real estate business. Today, Reggie delivers his personal philosophies for success at major business venues and expositions throughout the United States. Reggie attributes his success to faith, dedication to success, and to the invaluable coaches he has had along the way.


Justin French on Business Strategy, Leadership, and SDIRA Wealth

Justin French is the kind of CEO who understands collaboration is the core of innovation. With a growing team that is now nationwide, French’s focus is on the strength of its people.

“I have always believed one of the best investments you can make, as a leader, is in the people you surround yourself with,” French said. “Great leaders never try to do everything on their own. They know a great company is built by everyone performing at their peak level. I spend most of my day working directly with my team and our affiliate partners so I can better equip them to be successful. In return, all of us at SDIRA Wealth are collectively raising the bar and achieving our goals.”

French uses his business-oriented insights to empower his team. He takes inspiration from one of the greats.

“Steve Jobs is a true innovator of our time,” French said. “He wanted to change the world. He did. He made an impact on everyone. He was successful not because he suddenly realized personal computers were his passion. That was not it at all. He knew computers could change the world. He wanted to be part of something bigger than himself.”

French said he admired Jobs’ dedication for making things simple to use, and this simplicity mindset is something French helps cultivate at SDIRA Wealth.

“What we do as a company is remove the barriers of having to deal with headaches of real estate, leaving our clients to enjoy all the benefits of it inside of their retirement accounts,” French said. “Making something simple requires harder work on the front side. You have to have the right talent and put enough time in to define the process. It’s worth it in the end because you have a product that is innovative and easy to use.”

His big-picture thinking combined with detailed actions has helped French make SDIRA Wealth a game-changer for retirement planning.

“The traditional way of retirement investing has been broken for a long time. Many people don’t know the 401(k) plan was never meant to be the main source of retirement funds that it is today, and sadly, pension plans have almost disappeared entirely. The problem is the money people are setting aside for retirement isn’t producing enough of a return for them to actually live on and maintain their standards of living in the future.”

To solve the problem, French said they had to answer three questions. What do people want? What do people need? Can we bring value? SDIRA Wealth’s solution answered all three.

“All great companies solve a problem and create value,” French said. “We don’t look at ourselves as a real estate investment company. We are an education company that provides a great product and solves America’s retirement epidemic. Real estate just happens to be part of that solution. We made the process simple and easy for everyone.”

French and his team are passionate about educating people about the benefits of real estate and Self-Directed IRAs.

“Our team is obsessed with educating others about all the benefits that Self-Directed IRAs bring with the power of real estate,” French said. “Most of the wealthy are already doing it. Look at Mitt Romney. He educated himself and took action for him and his family.”

Many people who invest in real estate are doing it the hard way, according to French.

“People expend a lot of their time finding properties, dealing with the headaches of being a landlord, trying to find ways to finance and leverage, and connecting all the players it takes to make a real estate transaction work,” French said. “That’s ok if you want to be an active investor. But what if you wanted the investment to be passive and to use your retirement dollars while still following all the rules and regulations?”

Complexity mixed with French’s drive for designing simplicity created perfect storm for a solution.

“Where there is complexity there is opportunity,” French said. “When companies focus on making things simple and easy for the end client, that’s when you start to innovate.  We made real estate as easy as a stock.”

French said part of making it easy has been about solving challenges.

“People want protection from market volatility, they want a higher rate of return, they don’t like hidden fees, and they want to have control of how their retirement plan is designed,” French said. “We have been able to solve all four. We do this with our solution by utilizing an asset that has been creating millionaires for decades. That’s residential real estate.”

From those four problems, SDIRA Wealth created the acronym PACT, which stands for People Achieving Change Together.

“PACT started out small but now has become a movement across the country with our affiliate partners,” French said. “It also represents the four main benefits our clients love about SDIRA Wealth’s investment solution, which are protection, acceleration, control, and transparency.”

After building and honing the solution, French started focusing on telling people about it by launching a nationwide affiliate campaign.

“We are blessed to work with some amazing affiliate partners who are wealth advisors, investment firms, and big-name influencers. They have same values and beliefs we do of disrupting status quo when it comes to retirement investing. They have been waiting for something like this.”

SDIRA Wealth helps affiliate partners best serve their clients in their market.

“By offering an additional product to accelerate their clients’ portfolios and reach their goals faster, our affiliate partners stand out in their market and attract more cliental,” French said. “Many say it’s the ace in their back pocket that has allowed them to satisfy their clients needs in ways they were not able to before. Their clients see they truly care to represent all the investment choices allowing their clients to win in the end.”

French said affiliate partners are passionate about solving America’s retirement challenges.

“Our affiliate partners understand the benefits of real estate,” French said. “They are excited about what we are doing and see the benefits of what our solution solves. Every week we interview new potential partners. Most of them come through our website or meet us at events.”

French’s success stems from his skills of finding and developing talent.

“The people you surround yourself will always determine your success,” French said. “One of my mentors always reminded me, ‘Show me your team and I’ll show you your success.’ This has always stuck with me and has always been true. With every successful team I have built over the past 20 years, the one thing I have always been very involved with is the interview process. It is vital we are always selecting natural market leaders and influencers who fit our culture and have the ability to make our company better.”

French has three tips for entrepreneurs who are striving for success.

One, “take time everyday to reflect and be thankful.”

“Always remember to have gratitude for the things you already do have,” French said. “Practicing thankfulness has changed my mindset and my life. It’s easy to think about what you don’t have as we are always working toward building our future. When you develop an attitude of gratitude you become thankful for everything that happens to you in life. Don’t be so focused on the finish line that you forget to enjoy the journey.”

Two, “stay true to your vision.”

“Find something you are good at,” French said. “Create something that will bring value to others. Focus on it. It’s easy to get sidetracked into creating new features, getting involved in wrong projects, listening to too many people’s ideas. In the end if you believe in what you do and your product can solve a problem, you are going to bring value to a lot people. If you can do that, success is just the byproduct of adding value and serving others.”

Three, “write down your goals to create accountability.”

“It’s proven people who have their goals written down attract more success,” French said. “As soon as you start working toward a goal you will encounter resistance and hurdles. By writing things down you will overcome these obstacles by focusing on your goal, making the challenges feel like small road bumps. Even more effective is sharing these written goals with someone who can help follow up with you. If you focus on your goals and take action the results will soon follow.”

So… You Want to be a Real Estate Investor…

By Lou Brown

If you have the intention to be successful in Real Estate, taking a look at what is working for others may be a good place to start…

Let’s understand what you want to accomplish. Do you want to have your own business in real estate?

Do you want to buy and sell, or buy and hold, or deal in mortgages, or buy and renovate, or build, or subdivide, or some derivation of these?

Frequently I meet individuals who just think about real estate investing in terms of a way to make money, without considering the direction to take. In my mind, that’s similar to a teenager saying, “I want to get a job, so I can earn some money.” Well, that’s great… but what kind of job?

With a general goal like “making money” or “being a real estate investor” people proceed based on what they think they should do next. Which may or may not be a smart move.

Think about the traditional process we go through to start earning a living…We start with over a decade of school.

Now, did they teach us a skill to go into business at school?

No, that is NOT what is taught at school… they teach you how to work for someone else! Even courses entitled Entrepreneurship, Business Management, and Business Applications don’t teach what you need to know about creating, and more importantly… sustaining, a viable business. You see, they don’t teach what you need to know about the process of owning and running your own business. They do teach much of what you need to know about how to work for someone else, but unfortunately they do not teach us how to work for ourselves.

Not only are you not taught how to start or maintain a business for yourself, they also don’t teach how you can get wealthy. That’s the process of how to create assets that work and create income for you, instead of you working for it.

So, what can you do to learn this?

1) You must learn from someone who has done it for themselves. 2) More importantly, you must learn and adopt a process to have that happen for you without all the expensive and time-consuming trial and error that comes with creating a business without a path to follow.

Michael Gerber, author of “The E Myth,” stated that 1,000,000 people go into business in the United States each year, but within 5 years, 96% of them are out of business. I don’t know of anyone who has that intent, but that’s what happens.

They, like you, are attracted to creating a business in hopes it will provide a good living and retirement income too. But for 96% of them, that promise, or vision does not come true and they lose the chance to get freedom from the shackles of working for someone else.

Gerber goes on to say that those with the dream of entrepreneurship thought business worked one way when in actual fact successful businesses work in quite a different way… hence, the title of the book, “The E Myth.” He reports that when the entrepreneur follows a different path, 75% are still in business AFTER five years.

What he found is that those who enter business with a franchise are able to build and sustain their business because they have a path to follow… a clear, direct, tested and proven path that leads them right to the money without the risks and pitfalls that so many others fall into.

Seems sorta obvious, right? Think of some franchises…McDonalds, for example, has a system that works. It works worldwide. Follow their system and it’s almost a guaranteed succeed.

Let me relate a story. Years ago, I invested in building a Holiday Inn, (funded using private money). We could have opened that hotel and called it “Lou’s Motel”. That would have saved us a ton of expense, but would it have been an uphill battle for us to find customers? You bet it would! Not only that, we would have had to create our own reservations system, housekeeping training, accounting software, resources for supplies, and all the rest.

Instead, we opted to go with a known brand – Holiday Inn. Now at the time, this was very expensive; tens of thousands to use their name; multiple thousands for their training and more for their software and 8% of every dollar that came in, for the entire length of the franchise agreement was theirs.

Whew! But we opened the doors to an immediate 100% occupancy and understanding of the proper way to manage the hotel, staff, marketing and lots of support. We were able to take their training, tools, technology and team and have an up and running business without having to make it up as we went. That made sense to me -Doesn’t that make sense to you?

So the question you may be asking is…” Does the Real Estate business have such a path?” You bet it does! And you can actually choose the path to follow.

Your real estate investing needs to be thought of as a business – not just buying and selling a house – and just like a business, you’ll want a business plan to follow; one that allows you to build a business that will generate a good income and a future of dependable continuous cash flow for you and your family.

Your business plan needs to cover all the aspects of this confusing real estate business…

  1. Provide for safety and allow for controlled expansion.
  2. It needs to include all the possible profit centers in Buying, Renovating, Managing, and Selling.
  3. The paperwork and processes need to support all the aspects, so profits and risks don’t get overlooked.
  4. It needs to provide a business model that can be easily duplicated regardless of the size or economic condition of the market you are in.
  5. It needs to have a training and support component to allow for adjustments as the market changes.
  6. It should provide branding to benefit from nationwide recognition and marketing.
  7. It should support building a sellable business, so you can exit when you want to without having to liquidate.

In order for this concept to work in your real estate business your business plan needs to include all the necessary Tools, Training, Technology and Team(tm). It needs to be a holistic approach rather than a concept from here, a form from there, a piece of marketing from someplace else all jumbled together like some untested recipe. In fact, that is the recipe for disaster that so many would be investors follow.

And this is why, as Gerber explained, 96% of businesses without a plan will be out of business in such a short period of time.

Does this make sense to you?

So how do you get a true, time tested business plan that works in all locations and takes advantage of the most compelling profit centers in the business – complete with support to be sure that occurs?

You have to look at people who have and have been using a plan that survives the test of time and still produces results. Fads come and go, and so do the cycles of the real estate market, so don’t base your future on a trendy investing “flash in the pan.”

In my 40+ years of running my successful real estate business, I’ve identified the component parts to make a real estate business work – for anyone – regardless of their current net worth or monthly marketing investment.

I developed a system that allows you, regardless of income or background, to build a business that will have all the benefits a franchise offers without nearly the typical investment. It includes Tools, Training, Technology and Team™ … all in one place AND with the component that is the most important – the wealth aspect and huge profit center of holding property.

Anyone who is serious about having control of their financial future should have holding income producing real estate as the center or at least as a component of their portfolio. You need assets that will work for you for the rest of your life.

This is where real WEALTH resides… assets and equity working for you instead of you working for it.

The combination of Income, Depreciation (tax benefits), Appreciation (growth), Equity Build-up (appreciation and mortgage pay-off) and Leverage (using O.P.M. – other people’s money) makes this the IDEAL unbeatable combination of investment benefits usable by anyone in any walk of life.

Because of your involvement with Realty411, you likely have the basic tools already. That is a good start. You may be someone who can see the value in the holistic approach including branding to allow you to take advantage of all the profit centers.

If you understand the benefit of the “franchise concept” (a proven model and system of success that can be duplicated by anyone) and would like to structure your business to run systematically, then you are welcome to take a look at how I’ve structured my business. It’s a model that has provided me with a lifestyle I love and has provided hundreds of other investors with the same.
You can access a free training on this system anytime, 24 hours a day, by going online to

Equipped with the right holistic tools, training and support, you will achieve your goals. My mission and prayer for you, is success in this business that will benefit you and your family for many years and generations to come.



Certified Affordable Housing Provider

Dealing With “Balloon” Payments

By Bruce Kellogg

“Amortizing” Versus “Balloon” Notes

An “amortizing” note is one where the principal amount is paid off over the term of the loan. A “balloon” note is one where the payments are not sufficient to retire the debt, and an outstanding balance is due at maturity.

What Is The Problem?

The problem arises when the borrower does not have the funds necessary to pay the “balloon” amount when it comes due. Oh, oh! So, here are some ways to deal with that!

Refinance the Property

The first recourse for an owner who wants to keep the property is to refinance either the property itself, or another property in the portfolio. This is a good approach as long as financing conditions are favorable. If conditions are not favorable, other approaches will need to be considered.

Sell the Property

If the owner does not care to own the property any longer, they can sell it and have the sale pay off the loan. Or, they can sell another property to pay off the loan. If conditions are not favorable for selling, again, other approaches will need to be considered.

Renegotiate With the Lender

This is not an ideal approach because the borrower is negotiating from an inferior position. The lender “has the upper hand” because they can always foreclose. So, the borrower should offer the lender a monetary “inducement” for an extension, either a fee, an increase in interest, or payment amount, or both. But, it gets the job done! (Unless the lender says, “No”!)

Protective Note Terms

The best way for a borrower to protect themselves from becoming in an uncomfortable position is to negotiate protective terms in the note in the first place. One might be called a “rollover clause” or an “extension”. Here, for example, the borrower gets a time extension, say two years, for a 2% interest rate increase. This must be written in the note as one of its terms.

Another approach is to convert the note into an amortizing one when the balloon payment is due. Again, these terms need to be negotiated when the note is written and included with the other terms. In some cases, lenders do not need a cash payoff and enjoy receiving reliable note payments from a proven borrower.

Bring In A Cash Partner

If the above approaches aren’t working, the borrower can bring in a cash partner. This basically involves selling a partial interest in the property for cash to pay off the “balloon”. An escrow is recommended with title insurance, and an attorney should draw up an agreement between the parties, who might not be familiar with each-other.

Return the Property to the Lender

This is the least-desirable alternative in most cases. It involves giving up. If it’s going to be done, it needs to be done right, with an escrow, deed with a “Deed-in-Lieu-of-Foreclosure” recitation, title insurance, and transfer of any rents and deposits back to the lender. The lender should cancel the note, and return the original to the borrower. The lender should also record a “Full Reconveyance” in the escrow to clear the title.

File Bankruptcy

This is an alternative, but a risky one. The day a bankruptcy is filed, a 30-day “Automatic Stay” of all collection actions is established. After 30 days, the lender can file a “Relief from Stay” request to foreclose on the property. There is a hearing, and in the case of homeowners the bankruptcy judge will urge the parties to work something out. In the case of investors, the “sympathy factor” is usually low because investors are considered to have resources and several years to handle the “balloon”. The lender is due the money, the judge is likely to rule. (i.e., no relief!)


A “balloon” payment is one of those things that isn’t a problem, until it becomes a problem. It is best to deal with it up-front, in initial negotiations, when the note is originated. During the term of the note, keep working to pay it off. If the due date comes and the payoff funds are not in-hand, find expert help. You’re going to need it!

Good luck!


Bruce Kellogg

Bruce Kellogg has been a Realtor® and investor for 36 years. He has transacted about 800 properties in 12 California counties. These include 1-4 units, 5+ apartments, offices, mixed-use buildings, land, lots, mobile homes, cabins, and churches.

Mr. Kellogg is a contributor and copy editor for two national real estate wealth-building magazines: Realty411, and REI Wealth Mag.

He is available for listing, selling, consulting, mentoring, and partnering. Reach him at, or (408) 489-0131.

Yield Compression – Why are rates in California for alternative real estate financing declining in a rising interest rate market?

By Edward Brown


The Prime Rate has been slowly increasing over the past six months, but real estate financing in the alternative sector in California has actually decreased. Why?

Competition between private lending companies in real estate [also known as hard money lenders] has increased over the past five years. This has led to brokers shopping around on behalf of their borrowers to get the lowest rates and points. Too many lenders have had a tremendous influx of capital from the private sector [investors] because of the low rates that banks pay on deposits as well as the volatility in the stock market that has spooked investors.

Prior to 2013, the difference in rates charged by private lenders and the Prime Rate was about 5%. Although the Prime Rate stayed stagnant up until 2018, the rate differential shrunk to about 3.5%. This yield compression was primarily due to the typical economics of supply and demand. There was too much of a supply of money pouring into California by investors, as these investors saw that real estate in California had not only stabilized [since The Great Recession], but had increased substantially, lowering the perceived risks of making private loans.

The default risk of making fairly conservative loans [less than 70% LTV of purchase] was minimized even further by an increasing real estate market. By the time the loan was eventually paid off due to refinance or sale of the underlying property, the LTV had gone down to as much as 40-50%. This was especially true in the fix and flip market for seasoned borrowers with good track records. Although real estate prices seem to have cooled off from the frenzy of buyers [especially those who continually paid over asking price], many of the larger lenders in the fix and flip market have gone as far as lending over 80% of purchase and up to 100% of the anticipated rehab. The amazing part is that these lenders are willing to lend their money out to these fix and flippers at rates as low as 7% and 1 point; this is unprecedented. Not only are these lenders taking more risk than in previous markets, but they are doing so at extremely favorable rates. One can only come to the conclusion that these lenders have a tremendous supply of capital that needs a home; especially those lenders who have investors who are promised a preferred return [usually in a Fund vehicle]. In these cases, idle money is a yield drag to the Fund and jeopardizes the payout to not only the investors but the profit to the manager as is typical in a mortgage pool Fund.

Idle money in a Fund is usually held in a low interest bearing account at a bank awaiting deployment. These deposits need to be liquid, as most private lenders market themselves as speedy – one of the advantages over a typical bank. In addition, their private placement memorandums dictate that idle funds be held in an FDIC insured account; thus, the low yield on these deposits to the Fund.

When borrowers shop around for California lenders, they may find two to five lenders willing to make them the loan they need at favorable terms. Most of the time, the borrowers enlist a mortgage broker who does the shopping for them. Although the mortgage broker may have favorite lenders he/she works with, the broker also knows that many sophisticated borrowers work with more than one broker, so it is the first one who can get the deal done who usually wins out. In addition, the broker realizes that some commission is better than none. Many times, these brokers quote lower than normal rates and points in order to secure the deal. What once might have been quoted as a 9.5% and 3 point deal is now hovering around 8.75% and 1.5 points. [As pointed out earlier, certain fix and flip lenders are charging even less.] The lender usually charges points, so both the broker and the lender are earning less on each transaction because of the lowering of the points that have to be shared between them. Most of the interest rate is earned by the lender’s Fund, but there is overhead that needs to be subtracted as well as the preferred return promised to the investors of the Fund. A 7% preferred return is not uncommon, but, the economics appear to dictate that a preferred return of closer to 6% may be on the horizon.

If interest rates paid by banks to depositors stay relatively low, then investors may not balk at a lower preferred yield; however, if the Prime Rate continues to rise, one might believe that interest rates on deposits at banks will follow. At some point, in order to attract investors, private lenders will have to increase the rates paid to their investors. The only way to do that would be for these lenders to start increasing the rates they charge borrowers, as profit margins to the lenders have been squeezed to its lowest level in many years. It will be those lenders who can run their companies “lean and mean” who will have the advantage in this market and the one to come.

Outside of California, lenders have enjoyed higher yields, but that comes with the potential instability of the real estate market. Many investors have chosen to take the path of least resistance – location, location, location, and stay conservative by earning less than other states may provide, but potentially reducing the risk. Generally, stable California markets have severely reduced the risk of loss of principal and, consequently, produced lower yields to investors/lenders. However, since a loss of 20% of principal in one year means that one has to make 25% the following year just to breakeven over the two year period, the prudent investor/lender might be wiser to accept a lower yield and not balk too much at a lower yield; thus the quandary of investing in California.

Edward Brown

Edward Brown currently hosts two radio shows, The Best of Investing and Sports Econ 101. He is also in the Investor Relations department for Pacific Private Money, a private real estate lending company. Edward has published many articles in various financial magazines as well as been an expert on CNN, in addition to appearing as an expert witness and consultant in cases involving investments and analysis of financial statements and tax returns.


Free Money….. No, Really! It’s True!

By Reggie Brooks

Our Government makes hundreds of different programs available to distribute billions of dollars to us in the form of grants, low interest loans, and subsidies. The money is then appropriated by politicians who are smart enough to know that the best way to keep their jobs is by funneling Government money into the communities they serve. That’s where we can step up and reclaim our money.

It’s Our Money Anyway

I say reclaim because it’s our money in the first place. The Government takes the money from us in the form of taxes, then gives it back to us in the form of grants, low interest loans, and subsidies. Here’s the kicker…The Government only gives the money back to the people who learn how to get it. You have to learn how to ask for it! If you can follow instructions on an application, the chances are pretty good that you can get a grant for something.

Free Money For Almost Anything

Do you have an idea for a business? Want to invent something? Need help with living expenses? Want to change your career? Want to buy or fix up real estate? There is Government, Corporate or Foundation money that can help.

How about $30,000 to tag Grizzly Bears. Not that daring? How about $96,000 to study fish. Or $43,000 to become a French Chef. Or over $148,000 to rehab an apartment building. Sound too good to be true? Well, it’s not. There are far greater stories.

Uncle Sam Can Be Your Very Generous Partner!

You have to see the bigger picture. To us real estate investors, Uncle Sam is our best friend and a great financial supporter. If you’re a beginning investor, Uncle Sam’s going to help you by guaranteeing that you get a decent loan to buy your first house or apartment building. There are many first time homebuyer programs that were created for that purpose. If you’re having trouble coming up with enough money for a down payment, he makes it possible for you to buy with a 3% down payment (FHA), or a 0% down payment (VA). Then he makes the IRS give us a lot of tax breaks because we now own property. He even helps people in areas where people have trouble paying their rent under the Section 8 Subsidy Program. Our partner, the American Government encourages us to keep America strong by using these programs. When you learn how to use these programs, the financial rewards can be substantial.

Let The Government Help You To Make Money

Of the many different types of financial assistance available to us, I especially like the Rental Rehab Loan Program. Here how it worked for me. Several years ago, I purchased a four unit building that had my friends wondering if I had lost my mind. The units were one bedroom, one bathroom each, and were inhabited by four elderly ladies who had been living there from 21 to 24 years. The problem was that their rent had never been raised! The total income from that building was around $460 per month! FOR THE ENTIRE BUILDING!! No, I’m not crazy. I did my homework and I found a Government program called the Rental Rehab Loan Program. The program required that I borrow at least $5000 to be used for upgrades in the building. The benefit to me was that I received the money at a very low interest rate, and (much more importantly) the tenants would qualify to go on the Section 8 Government Subsidy Program!

A Great Win-Win-Win Deal

All four of my elderly tenants were existing on a very meager social security income. They lived in the fear that whoever buys the building will want to raise the rent. They knew that the market rent was around $625 per month, and they knew that they could not afford it. They all thought that they’d end up homeless on the streets. They had no idea that these wonderful Government programs existed. I borrowing as close to $5000 as I could (I wanted to maximize my cash flow), and started the work on the property. When it was all over, I ended up with a really nice building with 4 wonderful senior citizens as tenants. I increased the income from the building from $460 per month to around $2600 per month thanks to my partner, Uncle Sam.

Everyone Was A Winner

Everyone won in this deal. The Government won because they were able to get the money out into the community where it could do some good. The tenants won because they were able to stay in the homes they’ve been in for over 20 years. They actually ended up paying less toward their rent because of the Section 8 Subsidy. I obviously won because I was able to take a non-performing piece of property and turn it into a success. Thank you, Uncle Sam!

Do I Need To Have Good Credit?

That depends on which of the many programs you’re applying for. There are some programs that are project based. In other words, if your project fits a certain category, the project itself can qualify for the money. It could be the real estate, the area, the tenants, or the business that qualifies, not you personally. If it’s a program that requires you to personally qualify, then your credit can become a factor. But understand this. There are programs that are designed for people with bad credit. There are even programs that require you to be turned down by a bank before you can qualify for the money!

So, How Do I Go About Getting This Free Money?

I’m going to give you a thumbnail sketch of how to go about getting this free Money. My obvious limitation is that I don’t have a full day to teach you in great detail. My hope is that what I share with you in these pages begins your great adventure in getting this money. As you begin your wonderful journey, please understand that there is a degree of work that is necessary. You may find that many phone calls and follow up are required to nail down that particular grant you’ve been pursuing. Make the phone calls. Do your follow up work.

You may find that the program is no longer in existence. Don’t despair. There may be 2 or 3 other programs under different names that have replaced the cancelled program. So don’t quit. There are so many different Government programs. Thousands of ways to qualify under different application processes. There are thousands of different corporation grant funds, foundation grant programs and non-profit organizational grant programs. If you can’t qualify for 1 program, there might be 5, 10, 25, or 50 other programs that you can qualify for.

Use The Resources That Are At Your Fingertips

The first thing to do will be to make contact with the organizations that provide the money. One of the best sources to find these organization is your public library. Ask the librarian to help you locate Corporate and Foundation Grant Sources. There are literally thousands of corporations and foundations that give away money every year. Why? Because our system makes it very attractive for corporations who earn a lot of money to give it away and write it off rather than keep it and be taxed on it. And when you factor in the great PR they get for giving money away, it’s a pretty good win-win deal.

Your Project Should Be Within The Grant Giver’s Guidelines

Once you’ve made your initial contact with a potential funding source, ask them to send you all the information they have on their grant criteria. It will more than likely come to you in the form of applications and guidelines. These guidelines will usually lay out what it takes to get funding from them. Your project must fit their funding criteria. If it doesn’t, go and find another source for funding.

Requesting Your Grant

When you’re ready to request your grant you’ll need to do so using two documents. One is a Grant Proposal, and the other is the Letter of Appeal. The difference between the two documents is that the Letter of Appeal is a summary of the Grant Proposal. If you’re requesting a grant of $2,500 or less, you can usually accomplish that by using the Letter of Appeal only. If you’re looking for more, you’ll have to use the Grant Proposal and the Letter of Appeal.

When you find the right funding source for your project, this is when you write your proposal and your appeal letters. Submit your proposal to as many funding sources as you can find. There are not many restrictions on the number of grants that you can receive. Why not get five grants instead of one? Why not ten grants instead of five. Get the picture?

Remember, You Are Entitled To This Money!

As I mentioned before, these are your tax dollars at work. Do not feel guilty! It’s your money in the first place! Uncle Sam is a very generous partner who wants to keep America strong. He does this by making funds available to be used for specific purposes. Some of those “purposes” that Uncle Sam allocates billions of dollars for are in the area of real estate, small businesses, and education. I challenge you to learn about the programs that are available for you and take advantage of them. They are there for you to use, but only if you’re willing to learn how to use them. Have a grand – Grant Adventure!


Reggie Brooks

Reggie Brooks, is an international speaker, author and educator, dedicated to inspiring others to achieve personal success through real estate investment. He is also the #1 Vacant, Abandoned & Distressed Property Specialist in North America.

Having risen above a life of poverty, he has achieved what many people consider to be impossible. He went from making $36,000 per year at the local telephone company, to making over $40,000 per month in his real estate business. Today, Reggie delivers his personal philosophies for success at major business venues and expositions throughout the United States. Reggie attributes his success to faith, dedication to success, and to the invaluable coaches he has had along the way.