Bruce is joined by Aaron Norris. Aaron is VP of Market Insights for PropertyRadar where he tackles insights into public records data to help Main Street small businesses disrupt disruptors. Starting July 2020, he’ll be co-hosting the Data-Driven Real Estate Podcast for PropertyRadar. You can catch Aaron speaking and writing nationally on topics such as technology and its impacts on real estate (accessory dwelling units, 3D printing, robotics, artificial intelligence, zero interface XR, shared economy, fintech, etc.). You’ll also catch his contributions on Forbes, BiggerPockets, and ThinkRealty Magazine to name a few.
He’s been in the hard money lending family business, The Norris Group, for over 15 years. There he created many award-winning resources for investors merging timing and strategy with his “Pops,” Bruce Norris. He’s a mortgage broker and California real estate broker.
Bruce and Aaron talk about The Norris Group’s new dynamic in the office. Bruce’s move to Florida and if investing in Florida is right for everyone.
- The toughest situation ever at TNG
- Going straight to solution mode
- The Journey to make things right
- New toys and new plans
- I Survived Real Estate more like I Re-Survived Real Estate
Narrator This is the Norris group’s real estate investor radio show the award winning show dedicated to thought leaders shaping the real estate industry and local experts revealing their insider tips to succeed in an ever changing real estate market hosted by author, investor and hard money lender. Bruce Norris.
Joey Romero Welcome back. This is Joey Romero with the Norris group. Thanks for joining us for part two of the Bruce and Aaron Norris interview. Hope you enjoy the show.
Thanks. So we’re building all these houses in Florida. We’ve been working with people over the last couple years and when the Coronavirus first hit early, we had to cancel the boot camp in March we get back things are going fine. But we’re you know, there’s certainly a lull and what we’re building. And then we had a subcontractor file notice to owners on every single job and just because of where we were positioned in the transaction, sort of coordinating things, we saw everything and we’ve said something’s going on. So Oh, the next four months, I’ve never worked as hard in my entire life. But long story short,
Joey Romero Just you huh
Aaron Norris No, I’m just this is this is my, this is my moment, Joey.
Joey Romero I’m sorry
Aaron Norris No that you’re right. That was our entire team have worked really hard to stand in the way of a nightmare. So in short, the builder had been using funds for current projects to backfill projects that had not been fully funded. So we had funds control we had the whole bit and I’ve learned more about Florida lean, lean orals in general, but that’s been It was really scary traveling back and forth three different times to Florida while all this was going down, what a what a journey. So before property radar, but because that was in the mix, but first of all dead, I’m just super proud of how you handled things. We really didn’t have a position and if any Any of the transactions in process except were listed as a liaison to the funds control account, we were just monitoring to make sure that progress was being made when the funds were released. But when the funds were released, we didn’t have access to bank accounts. And everything was closing out fine. At the very end of the project, you get unconditional releases against all the subset had received final payment. What we didn’t know until all the start going down is how many of the subcontractors weren’t protecting themselves by following the lien laws. And wow, yeah, so we literally stood between 50 projects, over 20 investors and 38 contractors telling everybody Today is the day where we decide to get this through this together are the only people making money will be attorneys. We’re on the tail end of that.
Bruce Norris Yeah, we we held that meeting, you know, with with all the contractors, some of them armed at the hotel, I think it helped that people understood we were going to participate without having legal responsibility to do so. I think that help the audience of contractors be more reasonable. I think that was helpful for them to understand. Okay, you guys are owed two and a half million bucks. And I’ve just attacted $500K back from the general contractor to solve it. But right now that’s the pile. I’m going to add personally to the pile. And, you know, we kind of went from there to where I think that’s where the negotiation happened. But one of the questions I asked them, I said, Okay, we’re talking about two and a half million dollar problem. How many? How many you guys have the same attorney? So at a 38 contractors, there were no hands that went, you know, mutually up. Okay. So the first thing an attorney is going to do is say, Well, two half million dollars word Whoa, let’s get an accountant. So now we got 38 attorneys and 38 accountants on your side. And you got over here a group of people who wrote a 200 grant checker. So to get a house well, they’re going to An attorney and they’re going to have an accountant too. So two years from now, we’ll get this settled. And you guys have lien rights. So you probably will get paid. But then I bet some judges gonna say to innocent rooms of people here so you guys each pay your lawyer fees and I bet you end up with far less than the offer you’re about to get. We needed their cooperation, obviously. And they were they did cooperate to the tune of like 850 grand they took off their bill. And the other people that were involved that were involved, added some money 10 grand to house to make it all work. Why do I and I think people understand this. When I heard of the problem, like literally you and I went on the plane next day. And I called almost everybody the night before when I ran out of time. I called everyone else while we were waiting. Remember we were in that waiting room to take off. Everybody knew we had a problem and everybody knew that you went I were flying out to get in front of it. And my mind went there instantly. I didn’t think about the legal ramifications. What if we don’t? I didn’t, that wasn’t where I went. I just it ticked me off. I was like, how dare you do this to people? Trust me? If Yeah, it’s one of those times where you’re just not going to let something bad happen. And so I’m very proud. And Bob viously all the people that help you, we all worked so many hours because we had to honor what was really owed and we had to, I mean, how many thousands of papers had to get signed and, you know,
Aaron Norris over? Well, I think that’s what I was not prepared for. And I only had a little over two and a half weeks before that meeting with all the contractors and I was literally crunching paper, because everybody’s got to realize it was Coronavirus, time, and I landed in Florida and I started fire calling the subcontractors that had filed notice to owners. I was like I need to talk to you today. They’re like my contract. is with you isn’t with you, I don’t know who you are. And I’m like, Okay, what do you need for me to be able to talk to you? I’m going to need this 30 day notice it’s like, nope, don’t have time I need to talk to you today. So our first trip out, there was me calling every single one of the subcontractors and letting them being upfront transparent with them, knowing that there were other projects going on in the background, probably as well that we had no control over, but I needed their undivided attention. And I wanted to know really what they were owed. So on every single house, I you know, not everyone had 38 contractors, and they were in different stages. But they’re all moving to
Joey Romero the 38 where we ended up three weeks is what you had for the contractors that you knew about. And then a week before the meeting, we got about a dozen more.
Aaron Norris Yeah, so and I have this spreadsheet of 50 houses down one side and along the top 38 contractors.
Joey Romero It’s 63 By the way,
Aaron Norris oh, it’s 60. Well, those have some calculation fields. Well and you mean the houses? Oh yeah, we gave them more houses just to check out that every field in that table sometimes had, gosh, you know, you were looking at 30 invoices just for one field and checking with the builder with the subcontractor and you know rushing and man you you find out these small businesses are not necessarily prepared for something like this as well. A lot of these are small businesses they’re not prepared to have this conversation their in house accounting and everything’s messy. So what we accomplished in that amount of time was also I thought it was going to have a heart attack. And when you’re touching an invoice and you know it means some of these livelihood and Coronavirus is going on, man, it’s it was it was stressful, but it was also emotional. So every crazy every day we were sending out emails to every single sub. This is what was accomplished today. This is what we need. And then we’d followed up with the investors like 100 emails are going out every day. I don’t know what we would have done if you hadn’t built the trust, like all of our investors protected our time. They didn’t. You always talk about the what’s what’s the saying about the press?
Bruce Norris Yeah. Stephen Covey, low cost of high trust.
Aaron Norris Yeah, I would have never have gotten through this. The investors didn’t trust usto get us.
Bruce Norris We never we never got one phone call with from an attorney from somebody that was an investor that was involved in health, ever
Aaron Norris No, all the attorneys that are involved because out there that title attorneys are like, we’ve never seen anything like this, like hopefully and everything. This has been terrible.
Bruce Norris But I think what they meant is I never seen it never seen anybody stand up and pay somebody what they viewed as somebody else’s bill a solve a problem that wasn’t there. There was a piece of that, that made me really happy to be honest with you, because I just knew it was the right thing to do. It’s one of the proudest moments for our company. So I’m proud that we did it. And now we’re on the tail end of it. By the end of August, you know, we’ll be probably down to less than 10 houses that have work, That needs to be done. So
Joey Romero Well, it’s because of the way the Norris group, you and Aaron reacted, why these houses are being finished? Because a lot of these contractors that bought so much goodwill with them that they’re like, okay, we’ll finish your houses. Yeah,
Bruce Norris I appreciate you saying that, Joey. That is true. They, they’re able to differentiate what was done to them by the by the general contractor and, and so that’s been very helpful because you’re right, that we we get a different feel from them, that they’re willing to help because we’re involved in this address that type of thing. Aaron, I don’t want to get off track on something you said about goal setting. So kind of go back to that where where you were headed to that with that Well, I was in Florida and you know, Florida has been my baby for the last two years. But what’s funny is after March the my biggest part heavy lifting because hard money day to day, you know, it was marketing. It was content creation. That was one of the things I typically am busy with. But then, on the Florida side, it was just the book and the research and setting up the systems. And Joey and Donna, do just a great job Joey’s so great with customers and I got a letter from a note from Sean. He was looking for help to recruit a specific position. And I’ve known Shawn for 10 years. And it was a position that I have never been interested in before but I told them what was going on that I was sort of thinking about a challenge and you know, that’s what happened. I reached out I get to stay co owner of The Norris Group in the background, and I’m on an adventure of a lifetime. So thing that I’ve always wanted to do. Tech is my passion. And this position, I get to basically help Main Street investors, mortgage professionals, realtors contractors and home services company. So they asked me,
Bruce Norris you and your night, you and I had that conversation. You told me to try and reach out and ask you for referrals.
Aaron Norris Yeah, he didn’t expect me to be interested.
Bruce Norris Yeah, you and I had that conversation. I said, why don’t why don’t you tell them that you’re interested because I thought it was a really cool opportunity for you. And I understood, I understood that the Norris group would be just fine because it’s at that point that I made you 50% of the company because I realized, just like the show The Prophet, which was one of my favorite shows on TV, there’s a gentleman named Lemonis, who goes in and helps businesses get better get more efficient, do the right thing. And you’ve done that for The Norris Group. You know, you brought us into the tech world. And you know, we went from black and white to full color not only in our document But also just in our processes, I know that you can monitor that. And do that without being anywhere close to full time. And so I thought, why not? Because I always thought you and Shawn would be a good pairing. I think that would be lights out an amazing experience for you. So I wanted that for you. So what’s interesting about this is it it may appear on the outside while while a lot of stuff’s going on. With the Norris group, Well, okay, we fully expect that over half our business will be in Florida. And that will come from loyal, California investors making similar decisions is what we did. So I feel fine about being here and being able to monitor that process. So that’s, that’s great. The California loan business. You know, Craig and Robin and Rhonda are still there doing their thing. And Joey is, you know, interacting with all the customers and talking to them about not only California loans, but also anything they want to do. In Florida, so we don’t have to sit there in California, although you are actually every day still at the riverside office, because you have that flexibility. I think The Norris Group now has a new toy that’s going to be extremely beneficial to our clients, and it’d be profitable as well.
Aaron Norris Yeah getting the chance to learn. I’ve respected Shawn for a really long time. And I’ve been a big fan of his product. He was funny when we first started chatting and like, Sean, do you know that I use your data? When I present He’s like, really? Like, yeah, so I showed him why. Just the iBuyer data that I had been following for the last couple years and I told him why I was using it and why I thought it was important for investors to understand data speaks to me, I think that’s one of the reasons that I’ve always enjoyed working with you. Having that wall street experience early on in my career. That’s all I did on Wall Street was create these merger and acquisitions and it was about making something visual communicating value. Making something complex, powerful. And so I just I love that so now I get to do that nationwide. That’s pretty fun.
Joey Romero You know, data’s the music and the Excel spreadsheet I think for you your piano. And I’ve seen I’ve seen you make, you know, Excel spreadsheets like sing you know, these beautiful, beautiful songs you know, the past three years I’ve been here.
Aaron Norris Well thank you and it’s it’s fun. So now having public records access to somebody told me online they’re like, oh, man, I’m so jealous. You have access to so many records. I’m like, it’s so true. It’s just it’s finding meaning in all of it is what’s going to be interesting and making me think outside the box and more nationwide. And not just California. So
Bruce Norris well. It’s also going to give me a lot of access to data in Florida and united already talked about a business model they I intend to pursue in Florida that I would have never had thought of because of the data. You know the discussion specificity of the data, I can now search for a very tight, very certain type of buyer a certain type of age that owns a certain type of house and is owned it for a certain length of time and create a really cool niche. So I’m excited about that.
Aaron Norris Yeah. What’s funny is that the Norris group has been a client of property radar for a number of years. It’s a very robust program. It’s clearly not meant for beginners, that are typically very overwhelmed. And there’s a high churn when that happens, but six years ago, I got on the phone call with Kim Bennett, she’s, you know, the head, customer service awesomeness lady. And she’s in 15 minutes said, this is how you get the leads that you want. And there’s the automation that delivers it to your email every day. There you go. I never log in. And so it was funny. When Shawn and I first started having the conversation. I found out all these other layers of data that they had started to incorporate. So it’s not just property characteristics, loan data, it’s also demographics on the people. Behind the property. So that’s why what’s interesting is I won’t just be talking to the real estate investor crowd, but the mortgage crowd, property managers, Home Services like solar, anybody who needs consistent leads in their business and then being able to tailor their advertising. It’s just It’s so important because you can do a farm, you know, you would typically go to the title company and say, Hey, I need non owner occupants in 92501. And they’ll give you a big list, but it’s just you’re gonna blow a lot of your marketing dollar being too broad. When on top of that, I’m like you, you know, with a tool like property radar, it’s, I’d like to look at owners that have owned the property, non owner occupants. I want to know the ones that have hold for 25 years that have probably fully depreciated. I want to have them over the age of 60. You know, you’re looking at all this information and hitting that same person seven times instead of just one. That’s rad. That’s amazing.
Bruce Norris Yeah.
Aaron Norris Technology to I think one of I’m getting inspired the most about is, you know, property radars has some pretty amazing partners. So delving into different kinds of marketing opportunities that require data. And being careful with that data. So, text message marketing, email marketing, there’s so many different ways to slice and dice these days. And now you can do it in just a really hyper localized list. It’s pretty amazing.
Bruce Norris Yeah. And all that you’ll bring to the Norris group, and we’ll keep up with everything.
Aaron Norris Yeah, well, I’m hanging all my licensing on the road. Yeah, I’m hanging all my licensing here. I think that’s part of why Shawn, like that. I have have the background in the realtor investor and lending spaces. I can speak the language because it’s very overwhelming. There’s a lot to learn at a technology company and where they’re going. So they’re just about to head into beta. nationwide. I know some, some people that we know are definitely on that list and after that they’re finally going to go national last time I bought a list for another market outside of California. It cost me three grand for a list. And as soon as you buy a list, it’s outdated. So I’ve been begging Shawn to go into other states for years, specifically Florida and it’s under 100 bucks a month. It’s what is when you were, I found this great photo by the way in my presentation where it’s like a 1980s car. And an artist has superimposed a Thomas guide map on the back I’m like, Oh my god, it’s my childhood. I grew up with Thomas guide in the backseat. What did it look like? Back in the day you were getting faxes available inventory and the Thomas guide those were your two tools, right?
Bruce Norris Well, the Tom’s guide I used to go see 400 houses I mean literally. So I mean, I was copying paste the pages of that. So I can sequentially put out the properties I tell go see 30 to 50 properties a day. So like You get done with seeing the auction but the facts stuff that came from you know, dealing with a, an agent who was attached to the MLS. And so we just set up a sequence to say, Okay three times a day. I want to see anything that’s brand new with his criteria. And man in the 90s we bought a lot of properties from and on the agenda, just doing exactly that.
Aaron Norris Well, back to the goal writing when the property radar things sort of fell into place and I updated our network. I think there was a I think some people didn’t read the whole thing and they didn’t understand that I’d still be in the background and actually parked right here at The Norris Group. So in in one fell swoop because of Coronavirus. A lot of unfortunate things happen. I think it made us stronger. We’re still building in Florida, we’re talking to a new builder. We’ve created a new process that will hopefully never have us. It’d be very difficult to have the same issues that we had. But all three of my goals happen in one fell swoop. Do you still write goals then?
Bruce Norris Yeah, I do. As a matter of fact, you know, here I am in a new state and boy, you already know one of them. You know, when I when I thought about the combination of the data that you guys are going to be able to provide? Yeah, I’ve kind of set a goal to buy 100 houses a year using that one set of data.
Aaron Norris You supposed to be relaxing?
Bruce Norris Well, it will be relaxing, because I’m only going to go after people that own 50 or more of what I’m after. I mean, that’s pretty cool. I mean, I’ll be able to talk to you all I have to do is aggressively close to people that have a pile of stuff. That shouldn’t be too hard.
Aaron Norris No problem.
Joey Romero I’m on my way.
Bruce Norris Well, anyway, that’s, that’s what that data allowed me to think of. No, I don’t want to sit there and have a day to day all day business. But I you know, just In translating what I what I’d like to do, I know people can get tired of property management. I know a lot of people have stuff they’ve owned for a long time and they’ve depreciated to zero, they might rather get a monthly check of a mortgage than, than a rent check. And I’m going to become very knowledgeable and the tax ramifications of what I’m about to suggest. And I can certainly get invited to speak in front of large groups of seniors. So I think it’s gonna be fun.
Aaron Norris A new toy on top of building. I think it’s gonna be fun. So I’m looking forward to it. So anyway, hopefully, we we tried to calm the fears of people that are thinking in the Nordics groups going anywhere, we’re not we’ve added, we’ve added some new toys. And we basically, you know, getting back to The Prophet when the Lemonis shows up to a business and makes the changes and the people implement them. He’s a partner in that business and probably the most Important person attached to the business and he’s never he’s not there every day or every week, or even maybe every month, but he’s set up process that works. And that’s exactly what I thought about when I thought that you could go to work with Sean. As long as Sean knew you were still going to have your your fingers in the pie and have an ownership interest in the Norris group. You could you could definitely control what needs to be controlled from a distance even. And still make sure The Norris Group is on the right track with with the most current things. And no one else that our company can do that. No one can. It’s a team effort. So no and I’m parked here I’m loving it. We’re about to launch a new web portal that actually we’ve been working on for a year. So those of you in the web portal. Hopefully by the time you hear this, it will have rolled out we have so much content dad, it’s like over it’s probably over at Ours in that portal at this time, it’s, it’s amazing. So I’m hoping you’ll be able to have some time to review some of the stuff, it’s probably time for a refresh for some of the stuff and some of what I’m learning, I’m getting more dangerous with data. I can’t wait to sort of redo some of the marketing things to help investors. I’m excited about the California Education
Bruce Norris so that well that’s the other thing is you added pieces along the way, you know, the ad use and on and on. I mean, there’s the new stuff that’s entered into that web portal, a lot of it you you follow, you know, all the wars and even talk to the people that created the legislation. So that’s been very invaluable because real estate investing is definitely a moving target,
Aaron Norris Especially these days. So we’ve got the portal that’s coming up. We are working on a bootcamp for the people that had to cancel. We just sent out a survey so we’ll probably go out next month. It’ll probably be on a weekend. So, you know, the team has already redone the book. For the most part, we talking to this new builder. And then I Survived Real Estate that is also in the works. And we’re hoping to send out our digital version. We obviously can’t meet in person. But we’re going to change the format a little bit. And we just have to tell the people who we are inviting to the new format first.
Joey Romero I hope we do a zoom meeting so everybody could have like tuxedos with like, shorts on underneath, or pajamas or
Aaron Norris fancy tops only I got it. Yeah. So it’s gonna be.
Bruce Norris It’s funny you say that the first TV interview I, I did, the guy had a suit, you know, coat on and a tie and he had a pair of shorts on. I wasn’t ready for that one.
Aaron Norris Well, it is going to be a busy rest of the year. It’s going to be interesting. You’re going to be one of those people that get the experience of working remote. So we’ll have to touch base every once a while and let everybody know how you’re feeling about it.
Joey Romero That’s, that’s one of the things too, you know, the radio show that’s not going away either. No, you know, and through that, I mean, we’re gonna be doing this on a go forward basis with with all the guests. So we’re not gonna skip a beat there.
Bruce Norris No, not at all. I’m you know, Aaron’s got, again he’s you know, he’s set me up with stuff I don’t understand yet but I’m willing to make sure I do and get get caught up. But as far as looking at data, there’s a lot of interesting people that Joey’s reaching out to that we’re going to speak to. So that’s not that’s not changing at all.
Aaron Norris Yeah. All this stuff is really making speaking from afar, not difficult. So it’s anything you could get busier if you wanted to, but I think Yeah,
Bruce Norris well, it’s become an acceptable format. You know, it’s become necessary but it’s also become acceptable. One thing, Duncan said is that you know, how much he traveled typically would probably not happen as much going forward because it’s it makes Maybe it’s unnecessary. He can do interviews and zoom in, instead of, you know, flying all night to have a one hour interview or a half hour interview or something. It becomes, it just becomes more efficient.
Aaron Norris Yeah, I Survived Real Estate might be one of those things that forever goes digital, depending on the future and what happens because, you know, a lot of the guests that we’ve had over the years, it’s a huge ask, I don’t know if people fully appreciate the Norris group. You know, we’re a small company based out of Southern California have Zillow, the chief economist of Fannie Mae. It’s just the heads of major national associations. It’s a it’s been a little bit of a coup. And I know one year we had Pat Combs from the National Association of Realtors. She said that she gave up 300 days of travel in traveling one year when she was president of the National Association of Realtors. It’s crazy.
Joey Romero Well, it’s turned into some of these folks favorite event to go to too.
Aaron Norris That’s true. So maybe they would still be willing to do it. I will miss me. At the Nixon library this year, but I think now more than ever, the nonprofit’s that we work with to raise money to, we have to do it. I survived real estate how apropos we launched this in 2008. When
Joey Romero I Re-ssurvived,
Aaron Norris I Re-survived Real Estate. Yeah. It just seems like an appropriate error that we give back in a meaningful way. So anyway,
Joey Romero So get your checks out.
Bruce Norris That’s a good point. Actually. It’s a really good point.
Aaron Norris Well, we are building out the content now we will be reaching out to well, Joey is taking the lead. We’ll be reaching out to our guests. The format is going to change this year, and I think it will be really helpful. You can already see the guests that Joe has been booking on the radio show that are typically on the panel. So we’ve already had Sean O’Toole and Doug Duncan, and it’s you know, the hour shows so it’s actually more time which each, each guest will keep doing that plugging away. We’re at that at that 15 minute mark. So it’s time so
Joey Romero By the way we turned your office into a into a yoga den.
Aaron Norris Surprise! No time wasted.
Joey Romero Well, it looked it looked cleaned for the first time in 20 years.
Aaron Norris Exactly. Oh my goodness. Well have fun unpacking this week and will bug you soon.
Joey Romero Okay. All right, you guys take care all right. Thanks for joining us Bye.
Narrator For more information on hard money, loans and upcoming events with The Norris Group, check out thenorrisgroup.com for information on passive investing with trust deeds, visit tngtrustdeeds.com. The Norris Group originates and services loans in California and Florida under California DRE license 01219911. Florida mortgage lender license 1577 and NMLS license 1623669. For more information on hard money lending, go to the Norris group comm and click the hard money tab.