Bill & Kim Cook are a husband and wife real estate investing team. They live in Adairsville, Georgia and have been investing in real estate since 1995. They specialize in buying single-family homes, mobile homes and mobile home parks. They also run North Georgia REIA and teach folks how to successfully invest in real estate.
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Kim and I want to thank you for reading our weekly real estate investing newspaper column for the past 13 years. With this last article, we say: Goodbye, y’all!
In 2003, when we started this feature, we were still fairly new to real estate investing. As we gained knowledge and experience, we shared the creative deal-structuring techniques we learned that allowed the impossible deals to become not only possible, but also probable.
We also shared most every mistake we made along the way. We did this because more great lessons are learned from failure than from success!
And, we wrote a ton of articles about what it takes to succeed. No matter what field you’re in, the attributes it takes to succeed can be boiled down to these ten: love, accomplishment, discipline, persistence, belief, integrity, associations, a yearning to learn, sacrifice and giving back.
The story about how our weekly column first got in the paper demonstrates these attributes at work. Read More >>
The thing that kills most real estate investors – heck, the thing that prevents 95% of folks from reaching anywhere close to their full potential as human beings – is the dreaded Big But Disease!
It goes something like this: I want to start my own business, but... I want to do more for my church, but... I want to own 20 free-and-clear rental properties, but... I want to get in shape, but... I want to improve my marriage, but... I want to spend more quality time with my kids, but...
That stinky Big But Disease will squash your dreams, murder your goals, and destroy the person you were born to be!
Starting today, what if you replaced saying “but...” with saying “I’ll do whatever it takes to get this thing done!”
So instead of saying, “I want to run a marathon, but...” you’d say, “I want to run a marathon, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get this thing done!” With this attitude how much more would you accomplish in your lifetime? Read More >>
With less than a week left before completing a major rehab on our latest real estate investing deal, all Kim wanted to do was to drop to the floor and cry when she saw what had happened to every interior wall in the home.
The day before, the walls had been perfect. But on this day, the walls looked like something you’d see in one of those circus houses with funny mirrors that make your head look huge while making your body look the size of a walnut.
In this home, we’d replaced all the paneling with new paneling. Then came two days of constant rain. Because the HVAC system wasn’t yet working, there was a significant increase in the home’s humidity level. The new paneling quickly absorbed the excess humidity and became wavy.
A multitude of things made Kim want to cry. All the time and money spent demolishing the old walls and installing the new ones was for naught. The rehab was scheduled to be completed in five more days, but now would be extended by at least two weeks. The extra work would cause this rehab to go over budget. Read More >>
I’m writing this on Friday, October 9, 2015. It’s a heavy day for me. Today is the sixth anniversary of Jack Miller’s passing, and for the past few days he has been frequently on my mind.
Many of you have never heard of Jack Miller; even fewer took the opportunity to learn from this great man. Jack, hands down, was the best all-around real estate investor I’ve ever met. He was the definition of original. There was no boundary he wouldn’t push.
Put simply: Many of the creative deal-structuring and funding techniques investors use today were born in Jack’s wonderful imagination. There has never been, or will ever be, another Jack Miller.
I wish I had a do over. Although I attended most of Jack’s seminars, there were more than a handful that I missed. If I could get that do-over, I’d be front and center at each one of the meetings – taking notes like crazy!
Kim asked what I’d pay to attend just one more of Jack’s seminars. I said one hundred thousand dollars wouldn’t be too much. God, to hear Jack ring his big bell that let folks know that class was back in session...yep, one hundred thousand dollars would be well-spent money!
When Jack passed, he was nearly eighty years old and at the top of his game. Here are some of Jack’s quotes I wrote down at his February 2009 Money Matters seminar…which turned out to be the last seminar he taught!
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Boy was Mike ever excited! He found his first real estate investing deal; a property he planned to keep as a rental. Knowing that Kim and I loaned money to purchase investment homes, he gave me a call.
Mike’s contract was a gem of an opportunity – at least according to him. The seller told Mike that six other buyers were lined up with cash money. If Mike wasn’t able to close within a week, the seller would let another lucky stiff…errrr…I mean investor…have the home.
Mike explained that the house was built in 1955, had three bedrooms and one bath, needed a good bit of work, the neighborhood was okay but not great, and like-kind houses in the area rented for $800 per month. The seller told him the home’s fair market value was $115,000, but he was willing to let Mike steal it for $89,000.
Mike was chomping at the bit with no time to waste. He needed a purchase money loan and he needed it now!
After digging into the guts of this “deal,” here’s what we discovered. Read More >>
Kim and I have been managing rental property and tenants since 1997. We still own the very first single-family investment property we bought way back then!
Between then and now, we’ve made every landlording mistake in the book. We’ve bought bad rental properties, rented to awful tenants, and let tenants get three or four months behind in rent.
Here’s the important thing to remember: With every mistake we made, we learned what not to do. And with everything we did right, we learned what to keep doing. That said, here are the top 10 landlording lessons I’ve learned over the years.
Number 10: Take the magic nickel. Why own rental property? If you flip a house, you make a dollar. The only way to get another dollar is to find and flip another house. With rental property, you only make a nickel. But it’s a magic nickel that you get every month for as long as you own the house!
Number 9: Begin an eviction ASAP. Over the years, we’ve had tenants not pay us on time. In the beginning, we’d work with them only to be left holding the bag after three or four months of non-payments. When a tenant defaults on the lease, immediately file for eviction in order to get the eviction clock started. Read More >>
Just got a call from a realtor. She represents a homeowner who needs a quick sale. The realtor said, “Bill, my client will only consider an all-cash offer. We’re not interested in any of your creative razzle-dazzle deal structures, understand?”
Kim and I get a lot of calls like this. I’ve learned not to say, “No seller wants cash – EVER – ya dingbat!” Saying such would ruin the relationship and destroy the possibility of meeting face-to-face with the seller.
So what do you think? Do sellers really want cash or could I possibly be right?
In this situation, what if I immediately agreed to pay the seller’s $80,000 asking price – in cash? There’s only one condition: The seller must put the $80,000 on her kitchen table, cover it with plastic wrap, and agree that once a month the seller, realtor and I will get together and marvel at the big stack of money.
Sure, this is a silly stipulation that no seller would agree to. But why – since the seller is getting exactly what she wants – wouldn’t she agree to it? Think hard on this. It’s an important question to contemplate! Read More >>
Over the past twenty years, Kim and I have bought a wide variety of investment homes – everything from a one-bedroom, one-bath duplex to a six-bedroom, four-bath McMansion. Experience has taught us what makes the best – and worst – rental property!
Jack Miller said: Everything else in real estate is harder than a house. With that said, Kim and I stay away from townhomes, condos, duplexes and apartment buildings. We’re not saying these are bad investments; it’s just that they require a lot of hands-on attention, and our goal is freedom, not a j-o-b.
When it comes to single-family homes, the most in-demand property is a three-bedroom, two-bath home…with a garage…without steps…on a level lot…in a nice, convenient neighborhood. We call these Walmart houses.
Think of a Walmart house this way: Go to a checkout register at Walmart that has ten people in line. You hold up a picture of your investment property and ask, “Who would like to live in this home?” You want eight out of ten hands to go up. Next – and this is the most important question of all – you ask, “Who can afford to live in this house?” The eight out of ten hands need to stay up. If several hands drop, then your rental property is too high-end – which means you’ll have fewer prospective tenants able to afford the monthly rent…and having fewer applicants is not better when it’s time to rent your property! Read More >>
Since we don’t use banks, how do we fund our deals?
Do banks have money to lend? Think carefully – this could be a trick question! Don’t banks “borrow” the money they lend from their depositors? And why do depositors keep their money in the bank? Because it’s the safest place to keep it, right? But is it really?
What interest rate is your bank paying on savings these days – 0.3%? And what is the current rate of inflation…something like 4%?
Here’s a broad-brush picture to help you understand what’s really happening. You put $10,000 in the bank earning 0.3% interest. One year later, your nest egg has grown to a whopping $10,030. But let’s not forget about inflation. In reality, after you factor in inflation, the actual buying power of your $10,000 dropped by 3.7% to $9,630! What – you LOST money? Read More >>
Last Saturday, I took thirteen real estate investors from the Chattanooga Real Estate Investors Association door-knocking. Before heading out, we discussed how to make a written offer to a seller.
The group had a number of questions: 1) How do I find a property’s fair market value? 2) How do I discover market rents in the area? 3) How do I make a written offer right there on the spot?
The first thing to remember is that an offer is different from a purchase contract. A purchase contract is often a formal document written in legalese that no one – especially the buyer and seller – understands. On the other hand, an offer can be written in plain English on a Post-it note that makes sense to everyone! (NOTE: On North Georgia REIA’s Facebook page, you’ll see three of the written offers I made in Chattanooga.)
Randy Shelley is an investor who lives in that area. We spent the day knocking doors in his subdivision. Though he already knew the fair market values and approximate rents for his neighborhood, I asked him not to share this information with the group. Read More >>
You’re out working foreclosures and see an obviously vacant house. There is a sign in the window saying the home has been abandoned and winterized. You look through the window and confirm that it is vacant. Do you open the door with your “investor key” (a credit card) and go inside to look around?
Over the years, real estate investors have hotly debated this topic. Some investors would never go in the home, while others think nothing of slipping the lock so they can inspect the interior before bidding on the property.
I know investors who regularly go into vacant homes. The popular thought is that there’s nothing wrong with that. The investor is not there to steal or vandalize anything, he’s there to estimate the rehab cost so he can accurately determine his maximum purchase price. What can possibly be wrong with this?
There are a lot of funny stories told by seasoned investors about things they found in abandoned properties; things you can’t believe a homeowner would leave behind – like artificial limbs, stuffed (taxidermy) animals, porno magazines, etc. After hearing these stories, many new investors come away thinking that it’s OK to break into vacant homes. But I’m here to tell you – think again! Read More >>