Expert California Investor
Investor and REO Mentor
This week Bruce is joined by Mike Cantu, Rick Solis and Tony Alvarez. Mike Cantu has been an investor in the Inland Empire for over 25 years. He has been a builder, rehabber and property manager. Rick Solis appraises all of The Norris Group’s loans, and he is also an investor. Tony Alvarez has been an appraiser, residential and commercial property buyer and author. This is The Norris Group’s 200th radio show.
Bruce begins by asking Mike about what he learned from the 90s that helped in the most recent down turn. All things come full circle. A good market will eventually become a bad market. The down turn took longer this time, but it hit much harder. Sales dropped off the cliff, but fortunately, Mike began preparing for the down turn in 2004. Tony agrees with Mike.
During the evening of Obama’s election, a newsletter was put out, which was titled “Obama Administration Sings New Tune on Foreclosures”. The article is laughable. The media went from saying “no foreclosures” to “foreclosures are the answer to this problem”.
Rick began investing in 1989. He was not very active in the 90s. The main thing he learned from the 90s was that you can miss many opportunities when you ignore the market. A lot of people are afraid of the market right now, but Rick won’t let that fear control his investing plans.
Bruce believes that fear certainly is affecting the market now. People are afraid to buy properties despite the fact that prices have dropped 50% and interest rates are historically low. Its hard to believe that not buying could be perceived as a rational decision. Rick Solis has never seen a better time to buy houses since he began investing. Bruce definitely believes that it is the best time to buy and hold.
Tony just bought a completely rehabbed duplex. In 2007, it sold for $175,000, but he bought it for $35,000. The saddest part is that the duplex sold with multiple offers. The reason why so many people are afraid of buying is because they are paying too much attention to the media’s opinion.
Mike knows many investors, but only a small number of them are still investing. The number one problem that caused them to fall out of investing is their overly expensive life style. A lot of people learned how to make money in real estate, but not many people learned how to keep it. The investor pool has shrunken significantly. Many people would like to invest in real estate right now, but they made bad decisions at the top of the market, which handicapped them from buying. Mike agreed with Rick and Tony when they said that now is the time to buy.
Mike is a fairly frugal person. Bruce laughed when he saw Mike’s 1998 Toyota truck. It has 441,000 miles, but it runs like a champ. When a dog gets old, you don’t get rid of it, you just take better care of it. Mike has a hard time spending money on a vehicle when you can get a rental house for the cost of a new car. Every time Mike sets money aside for a new truck he ends up spending it to buy a new house, and he realizes that his truck is just fine.
Mike’s daughter recently began investing in real estate. Mike helped her develop a 5 year plan for buying cash flow houses in good neighborhoods. Their goal is to help her get $3,500 of cash flow per month, and they are half way there.
If Tony could have done anything differently throughout his career, he would have focused harder on one segment of the market place. He wishes he had been more aware of the value of his time. Tony spent a lot of time driving to deals that didn’t have much potential.
Tony prefers to buy and sell, but he currently owns 40 rentals. Before the peak, he had 100 homes. He wanted to get out before the peak, but Bruce encouraged him to not sell for another 3 years. Bruce’s advice helped Tony gain an extra $3 million in profit. Tony is now buying some of the same houses that he sold near the peak. In the past, Tony would buy almost any property he could. Some of the properties he bought and sold were in such a terrible condition that they have now been destroyed. He doesn’t buy properties that are that terrible any more, but he is still willing to buy wood structure homes and other properties that people tend to stray away from.
If Rick could have done anything differently in his career, he would have sold all his properties by 2006. Rick has accumulated quite a few properties, and he is glad to have them, but he is not looking forward to managing them.
Mike chose not to sell his properties despite the fact that values were sinking, and he does not regret that decision at all. Mike got into real estate for the cash flow, so that all his expenses would be taken care of. He knows people who are struggling right now and have to make a deal every month to keep food on the table. The value of his rental properties is immaterial to him. He has not had to reduce rents by any more than $50, and he has had no difficulty in keeping them occupied.
Mike was the person who introduced Tony to the concept of exchanged junky homes for quality rental homes. Exchanging for quality rental properties allows you to keep rentals in competitive areas, and it helps reduce the amount of time spent on property management.
Bruce has learned a lot from observing the business models of other people. When Mike told Bruce that he wanted to obtain 10 rental properties, Bruce decided to try and do the same. Having free and clear properties gives you sanity when making investment decisions. If you are playing catch up on equity, or if you are relying on today’s deals to pay tomorrow’s meals, you tend to make riskier decisions. Bruce and Mike don’t have to make potentially risky decisions because they both have enough cash flow to get by.
One of the big differences that Tony has noticed between 2010 and 2009 is that many investors have left his market. Also, approximately 80% of his purchases went from being new listings from agent calls to pending deals. Fifty percent of the deals occurring in Tony’s area fall out of escrow 1 to 3 times. This has caused Tony to become more cautious when buying. He has dropped his rents by 20% in the last 12 months. He has also lost some of his tenants.
Rick noticed that when the stimulus program was going on, entry level properties experienced up to a 10% increase in value. Moreno Valley and Corona had a big increase in activity. That 10% increase has now disappeared. Rick will not buy a house right now unless the deal can work as a rental. Many investors have recently bought homes they thought would easily resell, and they are now stuck with them. Bruce will not buy a home on leased land.
From the beginning of 2009 to the end, we went from a period of market uncertainty to confidence. In 2008, Mike decided not to do a retail deals unless he could keep those houses as rentals. Mike does not use any July comps any more; comps must be within the months of August, September and October. There is a 5 to 20% difference between homes being sold now and homes sold in July.
Mike believes there are still a lot of people who will not accept the fact that their home values have significantly decreased. A lot of the private market is still in denial.
Rick invests primarily in Rialto, Hesperia and Victorville. Rick and his business partner work with rehab properties. He rents his properties slightly below market value and they are in good shape, so he has a lot of demand. Many times he has a security deposit and a tenant lined up before he closes escrow. He does not have any trouble with rents dropping. His typical house is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath. He loves it when he can squeeze a 4th bedroom into the house by cutting the living room in half. He usually rents the 3 bedroom houses for $1,000, and the 4 bedroom houses for $1,100.
For more information about The Norris Group’s California hard money loans or our California Trust Deed investments, visit the website or call our office at 951-780-5856 for more information. For upcoming California real estate investor training and events, visit The Norris Group website and our California investor calendar. You’ll also find our award-winning real estate radio show on KTIE 590am at 6pm on Saturdays or you can listen to over 170 podcasts in our free investor radio archive.
Tags: business model, buy and hold, California, comps, down turn, escrow, foreclosure, foreclosures, hard money, investing, investor, Mike Cantu, norris group, properties, rent, rental, reo, Rick Solis, short sales, Tony Alvarez, trust deed investing