Real Estate Challenges With Guest Host Jamie Bateman

November 20, 2020




Want to get into the note investing business but don’t know the first thing about it? Chris Seveney has got your back on this as he goes back into the basics of and frequently asked questions in note investing in this episode. What are notes? What is the difference between a note and a mortgage? How to they work together? What are deeds? Everything you need to know to get started is here. Join in!

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Real Estate Challenges With Guest Host Jamie Bateman

I’m along with our cohost, Jamie Bateman. Jamie, how are you?

I’m doing well, Chris.

This is a special episode, especially for me. I am coming on the anniversary from launching the first episode and it’s exciting. I look back at where we started, where this has gone. I remember recording the first few episodes and how the audio sucked, broken, out and using horrible equipment. It’s the typical stuff most people go through. Jamie, when you started out on podcasting, you got to get in a flow and a rhythm and it’s not natural.

Once you start doing it, it’s fun and then it becomes more natural. It helps when you’re talking with people and in conversations because you feel more confident in that standpoint. We don’t want to talk about where the podcast has gone, where we’re going to continue to take it as well as talk about growth over that period of time. Two years is not a long period of time but you can still have significant growth. As always, we will start with our trials and tribulations. I will turn the floor over to Mr. Bateman. He wouldn’t tell me his before we started. I’m curious where he’s going with this.

It’s not something I’ve personally dealt with but it does involve both of us, Chris, at some point. I got an update on a particular CFD, which was surprising. You sold me a land contract for deed years ago when I was looking for low dollar deals to get in the game and the borrower was paying. It was a performing deal and not a bad deal.

I’m not going to confirm nor deny this.

I’ll try not to say where it is but this borrower is nuts. She has caused me a good bit of stress. She’s a borrower where she takes up your entire weekend with emails, phone calls and craziness. She wouldn’t pay you for 6 or 8 months and then she’d reinstate. We’ve talked about those kinds of borrowers in general, being the hardest to deal with from a servicing standpoint and financial standpoint. I decided to sell this thing. I was fine with taking a slight loss on it. It was doing me no good as far as a return goes.

I was dragging my feet on that because my borrower who would be the owner of the property once she pays off the land contract, she had out from under me. She created her own little lease option land contract and she scammed somebody else. Instead of paying me over the months, she would take that money out, but she would charge the occupant of the property. She sold it to him for almost $50,000. She gets from you for $6,000.

It was a low balance. She was taking the money that she’s getting from him and using it to renovate another property that another note investor had lease option to her.

This guy that she was ripping off, she would call him every month, kicking and screaming if he was a day late on the rent whereas she wouldn’t pay me and that was fine. I got in contact with her borrower, her tenant, who lives in the property, he’s a nice guy. I started taking a liking to him. I felt terrible for him, but I decided to sell the CFD because I didn’t see a way out, meaning, it was doing me no good. I wanted to help him but I didn’t see how I could. I’d worked with a couple of different attorneys and started the forfeiture process a couple of times but because she paid down a little bit, she had equity there that both attorneys that I was working with told me that I would likely have to go through the whole foreclosure process which wasn’t worth it from a financial standpoint. I sold this thing at a slight loss.

I didn’t know you sold it.

I found out that the guy I sold it to is going to sell it to the occupant of the property and he’s going to foreclose on her. It gets a little confusing and I haven’t done the best job of explaining it, to be honest. The guy that lives there has put over $50,000 to $60,000 into this thing. He wants this property.

That is genius by the way. There’s a property you owned that had a borrower who was on land contract. That borrower turned around and sold it to somebody else which she didn’t have the right to do because she wasn’t the owner to a guy who’s been living there who renovated it. The guy who’s in there renovating it is buying the land contract from the person you sold it to so he can turn around and foreclose. He gets the house and then he wouldn’t even have to pay her. I should have thought of why. I’m annoyed, I didn’t think of this.

I have text messages to the guy who sold it to saying, “This is genius. I’m disappointed in myself for not having thought of this.” I was trying to help this guy. I was racking my brain, “How can I help this guy?” I wanted to make a profit as well. This guy is a foster parent. He’s a good guy and wants to retire in this place. She’s not, in my view, a good person. I was trying to help him out, but now that I’m looking at it in hindsight, my thinking was limited. I never thought of selling him this land contract that I own. I only thought of taking the property back and then selling it to him on seller financing. At the end of the day, it made no sense. I couldn’t figure out what to do with it.

He mentioned something in passing to the owner of the land contract who I sold it to about foreclosing on her and that’s what they’re going to do. I’m interested in this deal from a human standpoint and getting creative. My takeaway on this is my thinking was limited. I should have talked to more people about it and not beat myself up over it. It’s a learning experience and I’m hoping that this guy can take the property. He’s the one that’s put all this work and money into it. He should have it. That’s how it should be. That’s my trial and tribulation. It’s something I’ve learned, I find it interesting, and I’m looking forward to some updates on it.

Similar to what you mentioned, I’ve got several borrowers who completely go dark and then they get something from the attorney. One of them called thirteen times in twenty minutes when I was not available to call. When I get them on the phone, I let them know who I am and the call is being recorded. They keep making statements like, “You said this or that.” I’m like, “No, I didn’t. I always follow up every conversation with an email. What was agreed to is you would start paying $500 starting on the third, as well as pay the water bill that’s outstanding. I called and the water bill is still outstanding.”

You get this runaround. It’s challenging because there are people who are professional borrowers out there from that perspective. I’m trying to sometimes deal with the dynamics on another loan. The borrower was in legal and as part of the reinstatement, we did a conversion from a land contract to a note. Documents got recorded. The guy called me up, thanking me. He’d been trying to get this done with prior lenders for years. It’s good to see that component to it as well.

It’s the typical trials and tribulations. I did get an email that I thought was a little odd. I got to call an attorney on because I have a loan and bankruptcy. There was a notice that the tax lien was sold on it because taxes hadn’t been paid. You’re like, “The loan is being escrowed, why aren’t you paying the taxes?” At my back, I said, “Taxes weren’t paid because the borrower hasn’t paid in 32 months. We were in foreclosure and I thought we would have had the property back by now, but the property has equity from mine. I’m not going out of pocket to continue to let this guy not pay. Let him step up to the plate. I’ll reach out to the tax sale guy. I’ll pay him $5,000 to take the property and then foreclose from that vantage point.”

It’s interesting because I did ask in this Notes and Bolts moment too. Somewhere, I did ask the attorney, “How come we can’t foreclose in a lot of states right now but tax departments can foreclose and take a property?” His comment was, “A lot of these states are not foreclosing, they’re selling the taxes. It’s more of a sale where they’re selling it to get paid and it may be considered losing the property. You’re not going to win that battle anyways.”

Legally, it’s a different mechanism.

That’s some of the stuff but your story is interesting.

We’ve been dealing with this. A lot of servicing transfer is trying to get some loans boarded.

It’s like dealing with the two guys from Dumb and Dumberer, Lloyd and Harry.

I feel like at some point, we should do an episode on servicing side. This 2020, I’ve dealt with four different servicers from many different angles. I know you’ve dealt with a bunch over the years and they’re all different. They all have pros and cons.

Why don’t we roll into our main segment which is again talking about two years, which seems like a long time, but it’s not. I’ll start briefly that in 2018, I started the show. There were only 1/2 note podcasts out there at that time. There was the main one, there was another individual who was doing like ten episodes a season. Now, there are 5, 6 or 7 which is good for people to get different information from other people, but it felt like an opportunity when it was started with Gail and I to tell our story and share. I drive home from work, I’d call her up or something, and be venting. I’m joking, “We’ve got to monetize this and tell our stories.”

Everything out there that you see from the training and everything else is, “I’m going to make $1 million in my first year. You can start buying notes after the first weekend.” The reality of it is it’s all BS for the most part. You could make some of the numbers people projected in the first year, which is impossible unless you’ve got a few million dollars that you’re investing but for most of us who were looking to dump $25,000 to $50,000 into it, you’re not going to make money on your first few years. You’ll make some money but you’re going to want to reinvest it into better systems.

For me, I’ve received a lot of value from you and Gail over the last couple of years through the podcast. One of the things people liked about it is that you guys told it like it is. We did the pros in note investing and then we followed up with cons. Everything has pros and cons. There’s a lot of value there for people and I took a ton of education from it. People are drawn to that. They trust you more because of that.

It puts you at a different level because a lot of times, people on the radio who talk or provide some type of education are the people you can trust. You’ve got to make sure you’re trustworthy and try not to be too controversial, not trying to have this show, and be like a Howard Stern component or anything like that. It talks like it is but it teaches. In 2018, if you can look back, where were you in your note business?

I had officially started Labrador Lending LLC. You and I had our JV Deal, Nightmare on Elm Street. The short answer is I was still passive. I had gone to the Paper Source Symposium. I read some books and getting educated, but also had some money invested. I was moving toward becoming more active. It wasn’t until February or March 2019 where I said, “I’m doing this.” That’s when I got much more active. In 2018, I had a JV Deal with you. I had a deal in Jackson, Mississippi. I had some other funds through the LLC invested in more passive ways, but that’s it. I was still learning.

Now, you have 35 or 40 assets.

About 35.

In 2018, Jamie knew who I was in the note space. I was very similar to where you were. I was around 35 to 45 notes somewhere plus or minus in that range. At that point in time, I hadn’t been on other podcasts or guest speakers. I hadn’t done any of that. People who knew I was have heard me through networking and I wasn’t even sure if the podcast would go anywhere because there was another podcast that is out there that had 97% of the market share at that time.

Fortunately, this show has done very well. I’m thankful for everyone. It’s because of the audience. We’ve done very well. It’s a good amount of market share but it goes back to sticking with our guns, being honest, having integrity, and as you said, telling the story but I want to highlight certain things for people because people think that getting started, there’s not room in certain avenues or areas for people for growth. At that time, I didn’t think starting podcasts I would be able to grow it to where it was.

I joked, “We’ll never get to 100. We would quit like most people after 30.” I started gaining a little bit of momentum but we had fun doing it. I could have no readers and I enjoy talking about notes from that perspective. I highlight in 2018, Jamie, you were much getting started in notes. Now, you’ve grown to having a true note business. There’s a difference between being a note investor and have a business. I’ve gone from where you are now. I’ve got 250 plus notes in my portfolio and grown it into a legitimate business that I’ve got. We’re looking to continue to grow and provide a lot more things for our readers, people in this industry and assist them in growth.

I do think the Facebook group has helped because we’re interactive on there. We’re getting feedback from people. I did a poll in the group for episode suggestions, which we need to look at more closely. It’s the fact that you and Gail were doing the weekly Open Mic Nights which was helpful. It’s not just two people or you sitting here spewing information because that could get old but it’s interactive. You’re trying to meet people where they are and figure out what their needs are too.

When Gail decided to go and do other things, I was doing the show for a little while by myself. For me, two things. It didn’t feel natural. I felt more like a professor almost preaching. I found the first sucker who would want to come on. I like the dialogue and conversation back and forth. I could have guests but individual differently. For me, it’s better having multiple people with multiple perspectives because certain things, I now take for granted. I’ve done them many times that I forget how difficult certain things were.

I have to sometimes retrain my brain to go back and look at some of the difficulties or things that people have. You mentioned a Facebook group and I want to quickly touch upon that because you’re right. I remember starting that. I got 100 people in that group and I was all excited. We’re about 1,300 plus or minus people in the group. The ratio is 1:9:90, 1% of the people who are very active, 9% of people were active, and 90% of people are blah, which is the case. There’s good value for people in there to post questions, ask things, and get more information from people within that.

You mentioned guest, I want to mention that we do have a good schedule here coming up with some high-quality guests.

Jamie was able to have Dave Van Horn to come on. Debbie Mullins will be coming on to talk about end of year bookkeeping to get ready for next year. I told her to throw some dates out there. I spoke to her that we’re going to do a live webinar so people can ask questions because bookkeeping can get very confusing. If you have questions, it’s easier to ask them in person from that perspective.

You lined up a bunch of other guests for the end of 2020.

I can’t name them off the list. One that popped in my head because he sent me something. Those who invest in Cuyahoga County. I’ve been speaking with James Wise of Holton-Wise. If you’re familiar with BiggerPockets, you know who he is. It’s a little controversial sometimes based on some of the things. He’s not afraid to say what he says especially from a political front. I enjoy him and Russell Brazil. Russel is in my neck of the woods. They’re the two opposites from a political standpoint. One is very liberal and one is very conservative but they get along.

Rod Khleif is another one. He’s got a big following. We’ve got good guests lined up, so stay tuned.

One of the things I’ll pose to you, Jamie, and we’ll do a whole other goals session later on. For people who look back at where you were, what are two things that you think have been the biggest contributors to you besides your wife and being successful that was hidden behind the scenes and the face of the organization, which we do have to get Emily on here at some point in time?

Businesses boil down to people and systems. I do think hiring Debbie was key. Getting a quality bookkeeper, which I’ll talk about later. We use a note-tailored system on Podio. Podio is free. I pay a little bit for Portfolio Activity Center. It’s nothing extravagant but it is extremely helpful in monitoring our day-to-day workflow. I hired a contractor to help me with asset management, Steven Burke. He’s doing great. The fact that we had this system in place allowed me to hand it over to him, not entirely, but it’s user-friendly. I didn’t need to spend weeks training him. He’s learning as we go. Having the bookkeeping system in place and then our daily workflow system is critical. I could give you tons of answers to that question but those are the two key ones.

With any business to be successful, you have to have good systems. The other thing I’ll mention that is bigger than systems when I look back is consistency. I truly believe consistency is the key and you have to have your systems, but you’ve got to be consistent with them. You can’t start and stop things. If you want to be serious about this, you have to be serious about it from that perspective. I see many people who want to be note investors. They’ll take some training and then realize it’s much harder than they thought, which it is.

The other thing I’ll mention about it is to grow in networking because a lot of people talk about networking. We should do a whole show about networking. I don’t know how many times I get emails from people like, “Can you send me this? Do this for me.” That is the 100% worst thing you could ever do if you want to turn somebody off. I compare it to walking up to someone you’re attracted to and asking them, “Can we go right to bed?” What do you think is happening? Slapped, kicked or punched.

That doesn’t work for you?

I’ve never done it. You look back and networking is like a relationship where you want to learn about that person. When you met Emily, you were approaching her like, “How can I help you? What are your interests?” You’re engaging in the conversation to see what benefits both of you. I’ll use networking as a perfect example because when people send me that stuff, it’s the same thing like schmoozing. You always should be on the side of generosity and what can you do for those individuals? I give a lot of stuff out for free and I’ve been helpful to a lot of people. I feel like I’ve been generous and that’s how I’ve been allowed to grow because people reach out and say, “Talk to Chris.” The next thing you know this person is like, “You might want to invest with Chris.”

The podcast is one major way that you’ve given back or given added value to people. For me, not quite the same following, but we put out a blog post once or twice a month, whether that’s a story about what we’ve done or whether that’s more educational. I figured, “If I have to research something, why not write it down and share it with other people?” That’s a way that it’s free. I’ve got a lot of interest from note investors and people who want to buy partials and different things. That also helped our business because we’ve freely tried to add value to people.

It helps me to organize my thoughts and to better understand a particular subject. Years ago, I was like, “What is the difference between the CFD and a note?” “Let me research that thoroughly, let me write it up, and put it out to people.” Why not? Once it’s out there, I can go back and refer to it. I’m not suggesting I have this massive following, but it has helped with networking. I don’t think either of us love that term but you try to add value and then that comes back.

When we talk about this episode, we are like, “We’re going to talk about your favorite episode.” I’m like, “It doesn’t have value for the people reading. I could go back and think, what was my favorite episode? I honestly don’t know which one was my favorite from any perspective. From that perspective, every episode is different. Is there a favorite one? No. There’s not one that sticks out. I love talking about partials because I love the creative financing side. You mentioned about selling and stuff, it burns me. I’m like, “Why did I not think of that?” I feel like I lost already. I’ve got an L in the column because I didn’t think of that.

I’m usually the one that comes up with these crazy ideas from that perspective. I wanted to focus more of this episode talking about the past years. We asked every person in our Facebook group if they knew who we were. Twenty people would have known who I was as regards to note investing and a few more because I was on some weekend courses and did a lot of marketing. By no means did we have the type of people who reach out to us now. I’m thankful for all that. To put things in perspective, you are going to try and continue to grow, and help people as time moves on years from now. I’m hoping that I’ve got bigger and better things which we’ll do another episode about our goals for 2021.

It’s been a lot of work for me and I know it’s been a ton for you. I don’t want people to think, “Get your Podio system, hire a contractor, and you’re good to go.” It’s not like that. I do enjoy every minute of it, but I like having my own thing and my own business. I do like note investing, real estate investing in general. I enjoy the work but it is work.

It can be stressful.

I’ll come home on the days I go to my “real job” and I’m straight to notes. I enjoy it but it’s a lot of work. I don’t want people to think it’s easy because it’s not.

That’s something that Kimberly Banks Fawcett asks to do an episode of my day and how I do it. I would love to do that. I want to do live and joke people.

I said you’re like Herschel Walker, you sleep 3 or 4 hours a night. She was betting on a time machine or a mechanism cloning machine.

It’s interesting because I spoke to the guys at Paperstac, Brett, and he’s like, “Rick and I were talking about you and stuff.” People do say like, “You can do it with 9:00 to 5:00 scale.” I don’t want this to come off sound arrogant, but I’ve got so many systems in place and I’m used to managing very large projects and a lot of things. For me, it’s easier to scale because I have that experience and I’m not as much the norm. I don’t like saying that. We joke sometimes about Jordan and stuff.

I’m not comparing myself in any way, shape or form to him. I relate to him in that sense. Why I’m saying this is, he’ll never come out and say he’s the best or he’s an exception. He comes out and says, “People are from different times and different errors.” He’s very humble about everything. The same with me. I try and push people to get them uncomfortable in some instance to push themselves. My guess is most people aren’t going to be able to run a 250-asset portfolio working 9:00 to 5:00, but you don’t need to. The other component is all based on your goals, where you are in life, setting up for success, and understanding that it doesn’t take 6 months or 6 weeks. It takes years.

I also think in note investing and real estate investing, you find a lot of engineer types. We may have touched on this before, but analytical types who don’t like to take action necessarily or the opposite where people wing it, don’t even know how to crunch numbers, and don’t even look at numbers. You’re one of the rare cases. I don’t want it to go to your head but you can do both and you have a drive. I don’t think it is for everybody.

The first time something happens to you, it’s like, “Oh my God.” When it starts happening continuously, it becomes the norm. That’s what happens in this business. The first time you get a court order affidavit that says, “Failure to appear in court on the signed citation, at the police station, you’ll be booked in process for arrest and criminal offense which is punishable by a jail sentence of 11 months and 29 days or a fine up to $2,500.”

This is to you?

Yes. The first time you get this, you need to change your pants. What this is for? It’s our contract for deed and the borrower is in a neighborhood. It’s for open storage. He needs a clean up the yard. I spoke to the inspector and he said, “The neighbor had a court date. Your borrower was helping that neighbor to get everything which they took everything from his yard and now put it in your yard. What’s going to happen is they’re going to take everything from your yard and put it back in his yard.” I laughed and said, “That might be the case.” This is a performing loan that has a huge amount of equity in it.

I’m in the process of talking to the inspector and like, “I’m converting this.” I told him where we were with it. That component of the first time you get that, it’s like, “Oh my God.” Now it’s like, “Whatever.” I call them up and it’s $100 fine, pay it and then it goes away. I’ve been on construction projects where I’ve made $75,000 mistakes. I remember those like they were yesterday. I can tell you one about a slurry wall, which most people don’t even know what a slurry wall is. From understanding all of that, it allows me to not get so excited, which I still do a lot.

I blasted somebody. Somebody thought I was being dishonest and flat out called me a liar. People, please don’t do that. If you think I’m being dishonest, reach out to me. Don’t post something like that because it’s not going to end well. The guy is funny because I ticked off at the guy who ran a skip trace on him and the guy has been arrested for trafficking cocaine or something like that. Why don’t we roll into our Notes and Bolts? What have you got?

I know we’ve touched on bookkeeping during this episode and previously, but bookkeeping is important. I’ll give you an example, a little lesson that I had. I also had my year-end meeting with Debbie and my brain is always fried after those. Something came out of our bookkeeping session that I never expected. I realized that I didn’t have insurance on a property. Not to go down the rabbit hole too far on this deal, but our Jacksonville property that we had a note on and ended up doing a deed in lieu and then took back the property is now a rental in a different entity that we own. I don’t pay as much attention as I should to it. The insurance had been canceled three times because Florida is tricky and different reasons. These insurance providers will give you a policy and then cancel it 2 or 3 weeks later without even talking to you.

That’s what happened three times. My insurance guy had told me in July 2020, “We fixed it. It was a signature thing. It’s good to go.” I never followed up. I took his word for it that it was fixed. While I’m looking and going through our books with Debbie for this particular LLC, she says, “You have checks going out to all three companies. You have checks coming back in from all three companies.” She won’t call you stupid but she’s very nice. I’m like, “You’re telling me I may not have insurance on this property?” “Yeah.” That’s what I’ve been working on. We got the policy reinstated, but since July 2020, I didn’t have insurance on this property that I’ve had a tenant in Jacksonville. I can make all kinds of excuses, it’s on me, but my point is bookkeeping isn’t just about, “You need to get every little penny. You put in the right spot and make sure your taxes are low.” It can help you manage your business and mitigate risk in other ways. That was a big takeaway for me.

There are a few things I do also with bookkeeping. This is in my Notes and Bolts but I’m going to throw this in there. One is on your expenses to check to see especially if it’s nonperforming and you’re legal, make sure that your servicers accounted for all your expenses. I’ve had attorney bills that I’ve sent them, I’ll run a payoff, and then it’s not showing up. Sometimes when I get payoffs, I’ll open QuickBooks, run a balance sheet detail which shows all the expenses and be like, “I paid $3,000 to this attorney but it’s not showing up on the payoff.” I’ll go through and find the email and then I’ll email back the servicer. I’m like, “Can you please?” They’ll come back and say, “It didn’t note on if that was recoverable and the attorney forgot it.” That can be real money from that component.

One thing that I find interesting from a bookkeeping standpoint, performing loans are a lot more work whereas nonperforming, you might buy it, let it sit there, and then you get rid of it. Debbie doesn’t have to do much. The performing notes, there are a lot of payments, interests, principle, and where it is all going. There’s a lot more work for her on those.

Debbie can talk more about this but people think, “I’ve got payment for $400.” You’ve got to break that payment into principal and interest whether you use an IRA or whatever it is, it needs to be done especially if you’ve got money from people. You’ve got to break that down. You’ve got to look at how your JV deal reaches because you put the principal back in and hold those reserves and then paid a fund where it sits there, it covers expenses, and then you give the interest. When people say, “You’re getting 50/50 of the payments and the payment is $500, $200 is principal, $300 is interest, are you getting $250 or $150 which is half the interest?”

There’s a lot of crazy stuff in which people are scratching their head in what I’m saying. I could show people on paper another time. My Notes and Bolts is I got a text from somebody who has an asset in Florida that they have it insured because it’s an REO. They got force placed insurance on a property and they didn’t realize in the property that it excluded named storms. I believe they had some damage from possibly a storm and it’s not covered. That’s a big WTF moment. I have JB Lloyd and I have an investor policy.

There’s a lender policy which doesn’t cover as much as an investor policy, which covers REO, CFDs, and everything else. You need to understand what it is you’re buying. I had a contract non-insurance on something else. Actually, it’s a kind of insurance but a different type of insurance, where I went back and read the contract again and realized it got me. They made a complete screwup. We’re like, “We completely screwed up but we’re only liable for this so you’re screwed.” Make sure on insurance in general, especially if you’re buying stuff in Florida, what’s it covered? Does it cover wind, flood or named storms? You should be asking those questions. Any final thoughts as we wrap up the second year of the show?

I’m looking forward to the next period of the guests coming up on the podcast. If anybody has any questions about servicers or anything like that, feel free to reach out.

Thank you all for reading this episode. If you are looking for more information, join our Facebook Notes and Bolts group. Make sure to leave us a review on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, iHeart, Amazon Play, and all the other listening apps. Thank you all and have a good day.

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