Thursday, July 30, 2009

The "White Pad" Analysis

It pays to know your numbers. I've been plowing through lots of operating data sheets for apartment buildings lately. When I first started looking at them after so many years of not doing that... I was hilariously rusty.

I used to be able to rattle off percentages and do mind calcs like "Rainman." However, for a while, I looked blankly at data sheets trying to remember why agents continue to pawn off "Pro Formas" on me, and never offer the actual operating numbers.

I've had agents tell me that they don't provide the actual operating numbers without a written offer. In other words, the Seller is testing the water, and doesn't want to get organized unless he's got an actual sucker on the line that would actually fall for that approach.

Normally, I would pass on a situation like this, but let me tell you a story about a Seller who had no numbers, did not know his numbers, and as a result gave me several hundred thousand dollars in equity because of his ignorance.

The Seller had just foreclosed on the building that he had previously seller-financed. He didn't have any numbers, except the taxes and insurance invoices. He also didn't have a clear idea of who was in the building, or who was paying rent. He didn't know the market rents or vacancy factor in the area.
Otherwise, I had to make my own assumptions of what the potential was. This was my first apartment purchase.

After all was said and done, I bought this property for less than 25% of it's retail value because the Seller himself didn't know his numbers whatsoever. He offered a sale price I felt was too good to be true, and I recognized the sale price as being so grossly under market that I could literally barely hold the pen to write up the agreement. To make matters worse, I didn't have a pre-printed sale agreement with me, so I had to write a "shorthand" contract on a sheet of yellow lined note paper. All I listed was the price, the down, the closing date, the loan balance, and the interest rate. I closed three months later.

Now because I knew my numbers I was able to confidently and quickly, if not
not nervously and feverishly act! :D

The Seller, meantime, did not know what he'd done to himself until he went back home and found his answering machine full of inquiries about his building. I would love to have been a fly on the wall and saw his face after listening to 30 messages asking about his apartments! he he he

I did spend 90 days defending my contract after the Seller realized what happened and wanted to back out for obvious reasons. I wouldn't back out, and we finally closed after threatening to tie the property up six ways from Sunday, or until his great grand children were dead, whichever occurred last.

This story would have never happened had I not
analyzed over 100 operating data sheets in depth, and performed forecasts and what-ifs on every one of them to see what I could do under various scenarios. I knew my farm, and my numbers.

Since I knew exactly what I could do with 30 newer units in downtown Kansas City, and the Seller did not know, I achieved a 75% discount.

The moral of this story is, know your numbers, be able to make educated guesses, and then seize the opportunities when they present themselves.

Somebody might say, "But Jay, that was a gross steal. How could you not know that, regardless of whether you had analyzed 100 other data sheets, or not?" Well, the analysis gave me confidence to avoid second-guessing myself, and flinching at the last moment. Months before, without having done hardly any analysis, I had come across other "steals," but hadn't really appreciated what I was looking at...or the scarcity of deals like this. As a result, I blinked...and lost deals to investors that did know my farm better than I knew it.

Meanwhile, the fact remains that the Seller did not know I WAS BUYING A STEAL --- from him.

Someone recommended that we, "Know Thy Numbers". I never recommend this to Sellers! :D

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Who Says I Has No Rithem? Yo!

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Up A Tree?

It's just a matter of time before the bank says, "Um, your loan is denied."

Gulp. "Wait I've got 20% down, and a 720 credit score!"

"Yeah, sorry 'bout that, but the appraisal came in short... we want 25% down, not 20%... and... besides --- you're ugly!"

This is today's market. And...unless we've got all cash, and are happy doing one deal a year (or less), we've got to have alternatives.

We've got to be able to buy without banks, or cash, or credit, or a job...and by golly we've got to be able to do it over and over again!

[Cue Mighty Mouse theme song] Sub-To to the rescue!

Back in the early '90's we wanted to buy two board and care facilities in Orange and San Diego counties. But, alas, we were equity rich, but cash poor. And without bunches of cash to put down, we were also essentially credit "sunk".

Banks don't lend money to people who need it. And they don't lend money to people who don't fit their mold. Normally, the bank looks to the business operating data and history to "justify the loans", etc. Well, that's the bad part.

Only one of the two operations was actually "operating". The other one was non-operational, but had a huge upside with good management applied. Unfortunately, we didn't have demonstrable experience operating a board and care facility, and so the bank wasn't interested whatsoever in loaning us money at any price (or terms).

What to do? Somebody in our brain tank suggested just going around the bank. What? Yes, it was suggested that we just give the seller what he wants and take the rest. Well, the seller wanted cash, and we couldn't get it without selling things, and this would take forever! Also, we had to be on title to operate the board and care facilities lawfully.

Our brain tank buddies suggested that we trade properties all subject to the underlying loans, including ours...and just take title to the real esate under the care facilities. Brilliant!

What? Yes, we traded a property with enough equity for their two businesses, and we took title subject-to the loans on the board and care real estate, and the seller took our property subject-to, and later refinanced cash out of it. What's more they turned our property trade into yet another board and care facility to sell for profit.

Problem solved!

Well, we got everything running, and successfully operated two care facilities, and essentially used dead equity from our property to buy two businesses without getting new loan, without coughing up any cash, and operated them lawfully with genuine title ownership. Such a deal!

P.S. If we had been smarter and a little less enamored with our management expertise, we could have managed to keep control of our equity rich property and not trade it up front, but simply got the numbers on the board and care facilities looking good, and used the new credit from our business operation to pay off a note to the sellers. This would have been simpler, and more profitable, but alas, we made money anyway.

In my new course, you'll learn how to buy a business without credit, and very little cash, from motivated sellers.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Kick Mutt!

There are five elements in good advertising that I want to discuss here. I'm talking mainly about direct mail pieces, and I'm offering a video clip for discussion. Meantime, many businesses fall prey to making up in design, what they lack in ad copy. That is to say that amateurs make the mistake of thinking "pretty" mail pieces produce higher conversions than ugly ones.

It's been proven time and after time that {controlled for ad copy alone}, ugly pieces are read 2 to 1 over pretty pieces. Hmmm. Regardless of the "look", here are five elements to include in good advertising copy:
  1. Clear.
  2. Forceful.
  3. Memorable.
  4. Easy to understand.
  5. Call to action.
Play the video below see how this advertiser included all five elements in the video. I'll say that this add is a bit cloying, but they sure get their point across.

Consider how you might improve your own advertising. This has been very helpful to me.