“Most Likely Motivated Sellers” With Eddie Speed
Episode 506: “Most Likely Motivated Sellers” With Eddie Speed
How do you turn people from unmotivated real estate owners to motivated sellers? In this episode, Mitch Stephen sits down for a chat with Eddie Speed, founder of the Colonial Funding Group, about finding motivated sellers that can provide you the best deals. They also discuss the state of the market and provide some tax strategies and tips on working with motivated sellers. Eddie then gives tips on leveraging notes and creative financing. Tune into this conversation for more great info on real estate investing.
Watch the episode here
I have a very special guest. His name is Eddie Speed. We go way back. He probably doesn’t even want to talk about how far we go back because that would make us old, but we’ve been friends for a long time. We have had endless, and I do mean endless conversations. They still haven’t ended. After all these years, we’re going to have another conversation in this episode about what’s going on and how to navigate it. What’s working and what’s not working.
A little background on Eddie. He is probably one of the premier note buyers in the United States who I’m pretty sure bought over 40,000 seller-financed notes in his career billions of dollars worth. The guy’s been in the business for over a few decades and whenever you stay in one focus that long, you got to learn some things and you’ve got to know a little bit about what you’re talking about. Even the dumbest guys could be in the business this long and learn something. Eddie, how are you doing?
How are you?
I’m doing well. There are some interesting statistics out. Why don’t we start with that right there? Let’s talk about who the likely motivated sellers are and some of the statistics that are out there that you might not believe as a reader.
While everything is great in real estate, Mitch, some things are underwater. Some people in the marketplace are experiencing situations that have not been pleasant for them. I like to say this, Mitch, for the small-time landlord, the market has been great to them. The tenants have been terrible to them and that means to me that there are a lot of people particularly with the changes in the tax rates on the horizon. That people need to reposition some sales and sometimes it’s smart to take some money off the table, particularly if owning these rentals has caused way more of a job than they bargained for.
Can I ask you a question, though? You said the market’s been great to them, but the renters have been bad. Is this largely because of the laws they passed or the mandates that they couldn’t collect rent or was it just crappy tenants?
I’m going to use some round numbers, but I’m very close to these numbers. I’m not way off in percentage. Call it 17 million properties owned by people defined as a small landlord, five houses or less. Some people say four houses or less. That’s an industry definition from Urban Institute, the Census Bureau. A number of different people report these numbers slightly differently, but it’s all within that realm. Fifty percent of those small landlords don’t have a mortgage. They got equity. People wonder why they haven’t seen more defaults with small landlords. Not that there are not defaults in there, there certainly are.People buy a rental thinking they're making an investment, and then they find out they bought a job. Click To Tweet
A lot of these people, the reason they don’t have default is they didn’t have a mortgage. What’s happened is and Forbes did an article that came out and there are quotes in magazines every week about it. Black Knight does some good reports on it and basically, here’s the deal. Fifty-eight percent of the small landlords experienced rent slippage during the virus and that’s an amazing number.
It’s a horrible number if you’re a landlord.
What we have discovered is we call them burnout landlords. Here’s the thing, three-quarters of these landlords, Mitch, you can relate to this from your earliest days in the business when you didn’t know better. They self-manage their rentals. What do you think their vetting process is?
Probably not very good.
Now you’ve defined pain. Mitch, I heard you say it when I came on. I think I’ve known you around since 1995, 1996 or somewhere in there. We’ve known each other well for a long time. We know because we’ve seen many people cycle through the business. People buy rentals thinking they’re making an investment and they found out they bought a job. You have made the most money in your real estate business by defining a motivated seller.
That’s where the rubber meets the road. You got to find a deal.
You’re a rock star at it. I see real estate investors and a lot of them are high-volume guys, but I think they may be too generalized and I’m trying to give a window for some people that aren’t necessarily the top 100 house buyers but might be on nowadays. The top 100 house buyers probably all know me and you, Mitch. They probably have already heard us say this offline somewhere. The truth of the matter is what if you’re not a giant operator? How do you want to go find a market that maybe the big guys, to be perfectly honest with you, might be passing over the top off? Here’s the thing. The highly motivated seller with equity, they’ve owned that rent house for a few years. The market’s been very kind to them. They have a big appreciation, which means they have a tax liability.
Mitch, what if you owned a rental and I said to you, “I have a strategy that most real estate investors don’t know about and very few apply?” Your accountant may not suggest it to you. He would know about it, but he wouldn’t think of it and you might not have thought of it. Did you know that you can sell your property and defer your capital gains tax over a long period of time? Are you interested?
The way you phrase that right there, that’s beautiful. You’re at least going to get heard.
You and I know the deal. It’s something that we’ve done tens of thousands of times, which is called installment sales. You are taking your income over the life when you get the money back when you collect, but a landlord wouldn’t have thought of that. A guy that owns four rentals doesn’t know the laws of that world and his accountant is probably more likely an accountant of a dress shop than he is a real estate investor. Even though he passed his CPA and I’m sure they’re smart, they don’t know everything about every industry. This is nichey and it’s a terrific opportunity for us to start the conversation of how you could take your gain over time and that is that you’re going to offer seller financing.
Most people won’t think of that, but the way you prefaced it was great. Can you say that again?
I did well in an off-call situation. You’re my customer.
I’m a landlord. I got this house. I don’t owe anything to it. It’s worth $350,000 now because it exploded and I’m worn out in the last few years. I’m old. I don’t want to work hard anymore. These people are killing me.
Mitch, I’m a real estate investor, but I’m a specialist. I help people with strategies that not every real estate investor knows. In fact, most don’t know the strategy that I’m going to tell you about because there’s a little-known fact that the IRS has allowed for years and fully allows it nowadays for you to stretch out your capital gains tax over many years and I can show you how you could do that. I’m not giving you tax advice. I’m simply saying I’m a business guy with tax knowledge. Are you interested in learning about that?
Yes, I am. Tell me more. There are the pitch guys right there. It’s not complicated. It’s a lot better than like, “Will you take payments?” They don’t understand, “No, I don’t want payments. What if I don’t get my payments? Why would I take payments?” He’s telling you, tell them there’s a reason for them to take payments. A great big reason with probably a dollar amount attached to it is that you can figure it out quickly if you had a calculator. You need two things. You need the calculator and you didn’t know what income tax bracket he’s in, so you can do the math and say, “This is what it saves you.”For the small-time landlord, the market has been great to them, but the tenants have been terrible to them. Click To Tweet
It’s typical thinking for you and me because we have capital gains because you and I own owner-financed property. You know that like you, I’m also in the land business. In fact, it’s a great business. I have a great partner, great relationship with the guys I’m involved with. We have some land that we’re selling and we have a good profit, but we don’t want to pay all that tax and stretch it out. That’s our real story. Why wouldn’t every landlord out there that has a lift in value has got a tax liability?
I sell my houses with seller-financed notes for a reason and when someone comes and pays me off, I almost rue the day. “I didn’t need all this money right now.” Where are you most likely to find these people?
The good news is everything I’m describing to you is data that anybody in the house buying business ought to be able to learn how to find. I can go scrape data with a data source, a list source and say, “Give me small landlords that have owned a house at least three years with either low equity or all equity.” In fact, we run a campaign ourselves. I’m in the note business, but part of my business is I buy these houses from landlords and create my own notes and sell them on the wrap. I’m creating my own paper like you did.
One of the reasons I did that, to be perfectly honest with you, is I saw what an underserved market this was. I’m like, “It’s great to teach somebody else, but this is too good for us not to go do.” That’s exactly what we shifted around and did. The conversation about a tax strategy that they’ve never suggested before is an amazing ice breaker. You caught it, but it’s an amazing icebreaker to the conversation.
It also shows you’re different than everybody else. You’re trying to help them out instead of getting a deal for yourself. There’s a lot to be said for giving before you ask and then they hold you in a different place in their mind. You’re not one of those guys. You’re that other guy that brought some value to the table and ups your odds a lot of being able to buy that house.
It also puts me in a different price band of a house bracket. The minimum house that we will solicit is worth $150,000. We tell the list vendor, we won’t even solicit a house that’s worth less than $150,000 because if they carry the financing for us and let’s say an average of 2% interest, there are all kinds of ways to finagle it and but just say an average 2% interest. Even if I sell the house at a much lower interest rate than your normal rate because on the $350,000 a house, it’s going to become rate-sensitive. If I even sell that house and do a wrap note and I’m collecting 6% interest, I’m paying two. I’m getting six. I got a pretty good bank going.
You could either sell it for what you bought it for and come out. You’ll be making 4% on someone else’s money, which is good. Any equity or any discount you get below that starts moving your ROI up pretty fast.
Mitch, here’s what happens if I set myself up correctly? What happens to me is this guy that owner financed it, this burnout landlord. He’s going to wake up in 2, 5 or 7 years. I don’t know when, but I have bought over 50,000 notes. I can tell you from experience he’s going to want to sell his note and if I write the note correctly, I put the first right of refusal in it where someone will note by her like Eddie Speed can’t get to it because the real estate investors got his own first right of refusal to buy his own note. All of a sudden, I could make a profit way down the road by buying my own debt at a discount.
I can speak from experience that it almost always happens. When someone seller-financed your house, it’s just a matter of time until their circumstance comes up. If you remind them every year, they’ll find a circumstance whether they have one or not, so they have to get the money out. They have to sell at a discount. When I say to remind them, sometimes when we got our eye on a property that we’d like to reduce our debt on or strengthen a little bit in the profit department, we will send out letters once a year saying, “If you ever think about selling that note, if you ever need some cash, let me know and we’ll do something with this note.” Plant the seed that they have. They can liquefy that note anytime they want. They don’t have to take the payments. What they will find out sooner or later when they call you to liquidate is that it’s going to cost them a little bit to get their hands on that money.
I don’t want to get too complex in the conversation, but there are techniques where I can buy some of the payments without all of the payments. I could buy the next five years of their payments or the next eight years of their payments without having to buy all twenty years of it. That’s a partial, which is we perfected that strategy well. Here’s the thing, once you buy those five years of payments, then they will end up selling you the rest of the note and that’s almost 100% at a time.
It’s like crack cocaine. They got a little bit, they got to have some more and the rest of it. They can’t leave and sit at the table now. Eddie used to tell me about partials all the time and I’m living proof. I’m a slow learner. I’ll come to that conclusion when I’m damn well ready to accept a theory. One day, many years after Eddie had been trying to explain it to me, I ran to Eddie all excited because I said, “If I had to hold 2 or 3 years of all the notes I sold in my life, I’d be worth another kabillion dollars.” Eddie looked at me and said, “I’ve been trying to tell you that for several years.” The teacher appears when the student’s ready. Sometimes you aren’t ready. It amazes me because even nowadays, I’m pretty well versed in this game and there are revelations that I wish I would have understood years ago that I’m now starting to sink down to my core and I don’t know what it is.
I use you as an example all the time. You don’t know this, but I did. I bought well over 1,000 portfolios of notes, not 1,000 notes, 1,000 packages of notes, groups of notes, mainly from you in years past. I tell people there are a few people in the business. One of them is my friend, Mitch Stephen, in San Antonio, who figured out how to recapitalize his note business and built a bank. People think they only want to do real estate investing and only want to create notes, but what the real art of the deal, what you perfected better than a lot of people who ever tried it in front of you, is that you figured these recapitalization techniques.
When you do that, then all of a sudden, if a guy wanted to sell five years’ worth of payments, you’d figure out a way to raise some private money and buy those five years’ worth of payments. It wouldn’t have to come out of your checking account. Now all of a sudden, what you’re doing is you’re dealing with some inexpensive, private money that is putting money into your investments that have a much higher yield than your passive investor is getting. Now you own a bank and that is the art of the deal. I use you as an example all the time and I’ve got to help you with some of those ideas. Some of them, you came upon your own and some of them, you and I beat up 10,000 times together, but this is why you’ve made your real estate business a wealth business. You’ve done that well.
It took a village because I never considered myself the sharpest pencil in the drawer but I burned my hand on the stove enough times that I’ll figure out which burner’s hot, which one’s not. What I liked about the mastermind that you have, I went into your mastermind. You have this very interesting concept. Most people are going in trying to get a price and you’re like, “Screw the price.” Figure out what’s more important to the guy. Figure out what the seller wants and orchestrate an offer that is in his ballpark and what he wants. One of the things that you brought to the forefront of my mind and said, “I know this, but I keep letting it go.” If you get the right terms, it doesn’t matter the price.Creative financing is a mindset. Click To Tweet
There’s always a set of terms that you could win at any price and here’s a bad example, but let’s say I’m trying to buy a $200,000 house and then the guy wants $1 million and the house is clearly only worth $200,000. I can always make up a set of terms that I can win it. That set of terms off the top might be, “I can buy it for $1 million. I just can’t have a payment for 30 years.” That’s a crappy example, but there’s always a set of terms that will outrun the problem of the price. This one, basically, I won’t be alive in 30 years. Who cares about making the payment? It’s a bad example. I understand, but you get my point.
Once again, I think creative financing is a mindset. I like it. I wake up a lot of mornings very focused on the next idea, the next strategy or the next position. I’m going to be super transparent with you in the audience. Everything about installment sales, burnout landlords, none of which you know is new with me. None of that’s new. I’ve made it a cornerstone of something I’ve been focused on certainly since the virus is the burnout landlord. Installment sales are something that you and I’ve been dealing with our whole career in the business because it’s how we’ve sold the property. None of those were new ideas.
What happened was is the new administration said they were going to make some tax proposals, which are pretty sure that most of those are going to end up down the way, particularly related to capital gains. There’s a big monster on the horizon that Biden has proposed, which is if you have capital gains of over $1 million, they’re essentially going to double the capital gains rate. Is that a problem?
Yeah, it’s a big problem.
When that came out initially for a period of time, I wasn’t clear that it was only on $1 million and above and I’m like, “This is the best sales hook I’ve ever seen. I would have voted for Biden if I’d have known him to come up with such a great idea for me.” I’m like, “Everybody’s going to have to sell this year and take installment sales or next year they’re going to pay double the tax.” That’s what initially gave me the idea of laying the income down or the tax liability down. It is standing up. It’s due all at one time, lay it down and then pay it over a long period of time.
All of a sudden, in more investigation, that guy’s under $1 million. Their tax rate isn’t going to be as affected, not double. All of a sudden, it dawned on me, “Wait a minute. They’ve never thought of this.” All the things that I was going to go tell the marketplace because they’d never considered it, I realized that the small landlords never thought of this anyway and his accountant probably never thought of it because his accountant is not like my accountant. He’s not used to note transactions.
Isn’t it amazing, Eddie, how this exact theory that the way the whole mindset of looking at it would have been a great pitch even twenty years ago? It takes us all these years to go, “What if you’d have had that tactic?” From the very beginning, you’d be worth another fortune.
The old saying, “It only takes five minutes to come up with a great idea. You don’t know which five minutes it’s going to be.”
This one’s a few decades down the road. I have revelations like that all the time and that’s one of the reasons I do this blog is because I get to talk to some pretty damn smart people. Eddie Speed, he’s no dumb ass, especially when he started talking to him about what he knows. I talked to a guy. He says, “How many houses do you have to look at to buy a house?” Everybody throws out like 25, whatever. I don’t know, 25, I guess. He says, “What are you doing with the other 24?” I said, “I walk out of the house. I never looked back.” He goes, “Have you ever thought about having a real estate agent in your office and getting your closers, teaching your acquisition people once they realize they can’t buy it to go ahead and set the appointment, to sign the listing, not to talk about a listing to sell the listing.” I said, “No.” He says, “Let me show you how it works.”
We started several months on that and we’ve closed seven and got seven commissions already. I think to myself, “I bought 2,500 houses in my career. If he goes through 25 to buy one, that’s thousands upon thousands of houses. If I had to pick up every 7 or 10, every 25 houses and commissions.” My point is these revelations keep happening even until the old dogs, like you and me. You can’t teach old dogs new tricks. Probably the old dog invents the new trick because they keep trying.
My sales manager, Derek, was a sales manager or finance manager at big car dealerships. The most profitable entity in a car dealership is the finance department. It’s not the sales department. It’s not car sales. He used to be more of a finance manager than was a sales manager because he controlled the biggest profit and the dealerships. These are big dealerships. They have 50 sales guys. He says an old manager that he used to work for had a great saying and that was, “Bad habits are built-in good times and good habits are built-in bad times.” You and I have dealt with many years in the business, over our stretch in the business where you could make that $0.65 offer and buy all the houses you wanted. Now all of a sudden, we’re scrambling around. They’re throwing out $0.90 numbers.
For the biggest guys in the business, 2021 is their most profitable year, but most of the smaller operators who don’t have the marketing and the sales process as tight as the biggest operators are not doing as good. This is why I bring this up to the smaller guy, “This is your unique advantage in the market. You may be at a disadvantage against the biggest house buyers in the business because you don’t have the marketing machine they have, but they’re not focused on this. I promise you they’re not because I know a whole bunch of them.” This is a niche.
Eddie, I appreciate this time with you and I know that you’re a busy guy. I don’t want to occupy all your time. I’ll have a link 1000Houses.com/EddieSpeed. Tell us about your educational opportunities and what you’re offering to people that might need to change or need to reinvent themselves. There’s a lot of money in the note buying business and it’s like any other business. You’ve got to get educated and you got to get good at it. You got to know what you’re doing and if you do, it can open up a whole other door.
I believe for somebody looking at creative financing or note, the three biggest opportunities are these. Burned out landlords, for the obvious reasons that we’ve been discussing. Secondly, there are $4.5 million loans that aren’t making a payment. When everybody tells you that there’s no inventory, let me tell you something. There’s an avalanche of defaulted loans coming down the pike, call it an avalanche and you can buy those notes. You can buy them at a good discount and there’s a huge profit with them. The non-performing note business, probably this cycle could be even better than 2010, believe it or not, because we’re not in such an injured real estate market. In 2010, you can buy these notes for pennies on the dollar, but then you had to go full with them and sell them.Bad habits are built in good times, and good habits are built in bad times. Click To Tweet
Non-performing notes are the second big opportunity and the third big opportunity. You know very well that there’s not been a better time to offer seller financing because we’re in a real estate boom but a credit crisis. Thirty-five percent of the people that could get a mortgage before the crisis cannot get one now. This virus has caused mortgage underwriting to draw in, which means there are more good people, qualified people with big down payments that need seller financing than we’ve seen in many years. If you understand those voids, there are some huge market opportunities to work around that. We have a training process. We would love to get some ideas. At least just come down and hang out with us a day and then unfold these things and see, “If this market is as Eddie’s describing. How could I do it,” and somebody gets a sense of how it works.
We’ve got a good book and it’s a name book after the movie Moneyball, the baseball movie because the Moneyball story is a guy that looked at the same baseball game. Everybody else had been watching for years and looked at it through another set of eyes. I wrote a little book and it’s about that and it’s a pretty good read. It’s like you described, how to look at a real estate deal in a different way and then they can progress to this and go to a class that they’d like to do it. Spend enough time with us to see what this creative financing thing is. It’s been pretty good to old Mitch Stephen.
One thing about education. You can choose to go out on your own, go to the internet and learn all you can, which is not a bad way. You can learn a lot of stuff there, but you’re going to pay one way or the other. You’ll pay in lost opportunity, lost expertise and making mistakes. Maybe even getting sued, doing things you’re not supposed to be doing you don’t know or you can pay someone to go get right to it. Have the confidence that someone who knows what they’re doing can advise you on any of your questions. That’s a different way to proceed with a lot less anxiety and I will argue until the cows come home. It’s going to be cheaper.
You might not think it’s cheaper because you see that number all at one time there but going without specialized information, they’re going to chisel at you and you’ll never know how much you lost, but I guarantee you it’s going to be way more than you would have paid. Ask me how I know. I like to tell everyone I graduated from La Calle U. How’s your Spanish, Eddie? It is the most expensive diploma you will ever get. As a matter of fact, they don’t ever even give you one. They kick you down the road, spit on you, grind your head into the dirt and then say, “Get up if you can, your little bastard.”
You look up and you spent $250,000 in lost opportunity, mistakes, lawsuits or a house you shouldn’t have bought because you didn’t know to check X, Y or Z. The thing is you got to be committed when you go through, either way, you got to commit. Get committed. I want you to go to 1000Houses.com/EddieSpeed. Are you giving away a copy of your book and what are you giving away?
There’s a copy of a book and we’ve got some presentation in there they can watch and take them a little further down the road about why people would want to learn this? Why it matters to them? I think it’ll be very helpful for them.
I know you may or may not want me to bring this up, but either way, you have this little calculator and it said no matter what the price of this property was, this calculator. If you plug in the variables, it’ll tell you what offers to make to get the ROI you want and it was an amazing little calculator. I love it because it saw so much thinking or guessing is usually what we do. We just, “This’ll probably be good enough, so we thought of the offer.” That calculator lets you know what you were doing exactly to the T. Is it still available through you?
There’s a certain level of training that people have that calculator. I developed that with a guy that was in the mastermind with us. I had the idea because once again, I think my idea is like, people don’t know what they don’t know until they know it and I think you’ve brought up a good example that we can ignore price if we’re clever enough in structuring terms.It only takes five minutes to come up with a great idea. You just don't know which five minutes it's going to be. Click To Tweet
For example, that calculator says there’s a cash price that you can make 15% ROI on, but there’s also a set of terms that you can make 15% ROI where you can pay more than the cash price and plug them in. It was very eye-opening the disparities in the prices and it’s the same ROI. Go to 1000Houses.com/EddieSpeed. You can see his little one-day events where you can at least go and spend a day and immerse yourself to see what the possibilities are and why it makes sense in any market, but the angles we’re taken in this market. Everyone has had to adjust their angle because of COVID. I don’t care who you are. We all had to adjust back in 2008 and 2010 when the recession hit.
All businesses are the art of reinvention, every cycle or so, and we never know how long the cycles are. We’re always prepared to reinvent. You got a guy here who is on the cutting edge. Check him out and spend a day with him. What could it hurt? The cool thing is there are usually some pretty sharp people in that audience too. Your lunches and your breaks and your dinners in the evening are some pretty jam-packed conversations. That’s one of the things that we lost when you had the Zoom meetings and everything because of COVID. Are you doing all this stuff online or do you have a formal meeting?
For the most part, the one days are virtual because it’s too hard for somebody to travel for one day. We still have advanced classes that we do both ways, live or whatever. You’re right. I look at some of the friendships and relationships. You and I literally met because of coming to the classes with me, hanging out a long time ago. There are relationships that have lasted many years.
I met you because I left the comfort of my home and I went someplace. Look at all these years. We’re still here. That happened during the break and lunch. I didn’t go to see Eddie. We didn’t know who each other were and there’s a good reason why we didn’t know. Is there anything you want to add before we wrap it?
Mitch, you’re a good guy. You have been a great contribution to the business. Congratulations on your health. You look awesome. I know you’re doing good and I love you, pal.
It’s been a great friendship for a long time. It’s always my pleasure to talk to you because I always get something when I talk to you. I hope I return the favor sometime. If not, just send me a bill. We’ve been talking to Eddie Speed. Go over to 1000Houses.com/EddieSpeed and get a free copy of the download. Find out when he’s giving some of these online one-day events so that you can feel around and see if this is for you.
I have a notion that whether you do or you don’t, you’re going to see the possibilities because Eddie’s good at painting that picture and that’s one of the reasons why he’s one of the best educators around because he can paint the picture. He can put it down into the simplest layman terms because if he was too complicated, I would have never been able to follow him. The guy can speak English like a cowboy. We’re out of here. Thanks for stopping by to get you some Eddie Speed. We’ll see you in the next episode.
About Eddie Speed
Eddie Speed knows how to architect a deal like the back of his hand. For almost 40 years, he has personally bought more than 40,000 notes and his NoteSchool’s executive team has bought 3.5 billion dollars in notes. As an esteemed teacher of real estate investment, Eddie’s innovative methods have earned him multiple industry awards and earned him a spot as the inaugural inductee into the Small Balance Real Estate Hall of Fame. He has spoken at events across the country–teaching thousands of people how to find freedom and flexibility in their lives through a widely untapped and extremely profitable part of real estate investment: creatively buying and selling notes.
At his core, Eddie is a problem solver. He is skilled at identifying roadblocks most investors couldn’t work around, and finding solutions to creatively close in a way that’s exponentially profitable. With humble roots growing up in Jackson, Mississippi putting in long hours working in the stockyards. At the heart of Eddie’s business is family. He has a passion for helping families in America build a financial legacy for generations to come. That’s why in 2003, he founded NoteSchool, a real estate coaching program designed to teach investors how to scale their businesses through buying and selling performing and non-performing notes. Over the past decade, he’s helped countless investors expand their portfolios by the millions using his out-of-the-box techniques. The ripple effect has been tremendous. Many of his students are able to quit their 9-5 jobs, spend more time with their families and live the lifestyle of their dreams.