The Norris Group and Real Estate Investing #208

This week Bruce is joined again by Greg Norris and Craig Hill. Greg is the vice president of TNG Auctions. He buys properties and resells them. Craig has been working with Bruce for 15 years, and is responsible for speaking to all potential borrowers for The Norris Group.

TNG gets many calls from new investors who tend to have some misconceptions. One of the biggest misconceptions these investors have is that they don’t need to use personal cash when using hard money loans. Craig suggests that borrowers have $30,000 for every $100,000 you desire to borrow. Also, many people believe that having credit issues will disqualify them, but credit issues can be ignored if they have an appropriate amount of cash. On the other hand, there are some investors with 800 credit scores and minimal cash reserves who will probably be disqualified.

If a house is worth $100,000, $75,000 should be the total between the purchase price and repairs. People do not understand that you cannot effectively invest in a house with very little money.

There are many lenders who will make a loan regardless of whether or not it will be profitable for the investor. The Norris Group offers investors another level of protection, because we have an appraiser with an investor background. Craig estimates that TNG’s appraiser prevents 2 to 3 investors every week from getting a bad deal. Once someone gets a deal, Craig prefers that the investor send him the property info immediately. There are many people who overlook details like “year built” or “lot size”. People treat investing in real estate like people who gamble in Vegas; they believe they cannot lose.

Sometimes investors start with something that is above their level of experience. In Bruce’s bootcamp, he takes his students to a home that is above their experience level, and asks them to estimate repairs, so they can learn to stay away from those homes. Craig has noticed that many investors tend to undervalue the cost of repairs and overvalue the sale price. People have come to Craig with an interest in buying property, but he can easily tell whether or not those properties are profitable by seeing who is selling them. If Craig notices that the seller is an experienced investor, that gives him a clue the property is not selling undervalued.

Relying on other people to give you all your buying, repairing and selling numbers is probably not a good idea, especially if those people are on commission. If an agent claims he can sell a property for a certain price which is contrary to Craig’s judgment, Craig suggests the realtor should not charge for the purchase of the property, and only take commission after the sale.

Appraisals have gotten better, in Greg’s opinion. This is partly because of a more stable market. Many short sales are pristine. To determine whether or not a property’s value is accurate, you need to look at all the properties sold within the last 3 months and pending sales. Sometimes you will see houses pending at a high number, but are also short sales; that is obviously not the right number. Sometimes the sold properties in the MLS are not actually sold. You need to know when to speak to a Realist about whether or not a sale occurred.

One of Greg’s most difficult jobs is to appraise a property for the future. He has to take into account which season he will be selling in. This winter has been odd for TNG, because half our properties are pending. Usually properties take longer to sell in the winter. Greg attributes this to the lack of inventory. There are not an overwhelming number of REOs on the market, so sellers still have some power. Also, TNG probably has the only fully repaired product. Greg has gotten better at pricing as well.

It is still hard to know what an appraiser will appraise a TNG house for. Currently, Greg’s least likeable appraisers work for VA, and FHA appraisers are now better to deal with, because FHA allows Greg to use appraisers that understand how to properly appraise a fully repaired house. Appraisers have recently taken a cut in their pay, so they may not look closely at your property unless you get their attention.

Getting a hard money loan is very costly. Craig has received calls from investors who hung up immediately after hearing his hard money interest rates. However, using hard money over a regular, cheaper loan gives you more freedom to do more and make more. One benefit of using hard money loans is that you don’t have to fear not finding necessary cash. When you have a business relationship with someone who is counting on your closing, you cannot go knocking around the neighborhood to find a quick $100,000.

There are some occasions where people receive a “yes” from a lender, but later get cancelled on. If TNG says yes to a deal, the deal is done and funded. TNG only gives borrowers a hard time during the initial process, so that we can know the deal is going to be profitable. This is why agents and escrows like working with TNG, because they know that if TNG gives a commitment, then the deal is going to work.

People might think that TNG’s business model is very simple and easy to replicate, but it isn’t. We have built good relationships with our business partners, which allows us to do business with ease. TNG even passes on a few deals just to maintain respect from its partners. Building a team that trusts you can take years.

When Bruce and Craig first met, the common idea of value was what someone paid for it. If a piece of property was said to be worth $90,000 but was sold for $60,000, then the value was believed to be $60,000. Bruce and Craig disproved this idea, but it was very difficult for Craig to approve Bruce’s loan.

All of Bruce’s seminars make it easier for Craig to do business, because many of TNG’s new clients know a lot about the company. Many of TNG’s clients have had the opportunity to hear Bruce speak, and they’ve researched TNG through our website. This helps Craig as a lender because not only do his clients know how TNG conducts its business, but they also know that we are trustworthy. Some of Craig’s clients trust TNG’s decision making ability more than their own, and that is why they work with him.

Greg’s favorite type of inventory are standard track homes. Greg does not like properties on large lots. Anything over 20,000 square feet is usually bad inventory. Also, he does not like areas that are poorly planned. For example, there are some neighborhoods where there may be one property built in 1960 next to another property built in the 1970s. There are exceptions to this, but Greg prefers to buy safer inventory with more mass appeal. Newer homes are typically more attractive, and they require fewer repairs. Greg has been surprised by how many people are still more attracted to larger homes. He does not mind buying properties on small lots so long as that kind of inventory is selling well in its area.

When Greg is estimating a property’s value, he tries to think of what a property’s resale value will be after 30 days. He has to consider what it will take to attract a buyer within 30 days. There are occasions when he must cut his values, because 5 REOs drop into the market at one time. Greg reviews his asking price once a week for every property TNG owns.

Greg has had a lot of trouble with pool homes. He has spent $25,000 on pool repairs, which wiped out his profit. However, pool homes are not always problematic, and Greg has profited from buying them.

Greg prefers to rely on his own knowledge at a trustee sale. Sometimes he receives friendly advice from other people, but not often.

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