Scott discusses using options to tie up note and real estate deals with or without your self-directed IRA accounts to find buyers for your deals.
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Using Options In Your Note Business
Today’s episode is the next evolution in making money with notes. We’ve covered wholesaling. Another easy way to make money with note investing is the use of option agreements. One of the best books I think I’ve ever read early on in my real estate career was Ron LeGrand’s How to Make Money in Options and Wholesaling book that he had up, that he used to provide to his attendees of his expos that Ron LeGrand used to have. I used to go ten years ago, haven’t been lately, but he used to provide that book. I think it’s one of the better stories because it talks about putting something on your option agreement at a specific price and going out and doing your best to market that deal to find investors who can pay more than what you have on under contract for or an option for. That’s not really technically wholesaling. It can be that but I like the fact that you actually take action to put something under contract. You don’t have to have a lot of money to do options. Most of the normal option agreements are $10 or $100. If you’re using your self-directed IRA to fund the option purchase, it’s going to be $100. We have done options for years in the note arena.
A big caveat is you’re not going to use an option agreement and tie up a tape or an asset under a $10 option and from a bank like Wells Fargo. That’s just not going to happen. What can happen is you can use options with hedge funds or private sellers of notes oftentimes. A lot of investors, a lot of sellers don’t want to tie up a property or an option agreement or tie up a piece of property for $10. That’s the beautiful thing about an option agreement, is you can use exclusive options where you ask for $10, you want a $135,000, great. I’ll give you $135,000 but give me a 30-day option period on this. If I can’t get somebody to buy it for $135,000 or fund my transaction or buy it for $140,000 or $145,000 or whatever, you have the option to walk away. The only thing you lose is the $10 with the $100 option fee. This is extremely lucrative if you can find the right party, find the right seller to let you type assets under this or even do a non-exclusive option agreement where you’ve got the first right of refusal.
If they can find somebody to buy it, you get the first right of refusal to match that offering and close. In other states when you put a piece of property under contract, you would contract and they have an option period. Usually seven days, you do your due diligence, get a BPO done or appraisal done, have an inspection of the property. If something doesn’t fall with what you like or something shows up red flag, you have the option to back out and get your earnest money back. With notes, we’re not putting up earnest money. Rarely, we would put up earnest money. I put up 3% before, 5% on larger trades. If you’re buying one-off notes whether it’s a hedge fund selling it or a private seller selling a note, you don’t have to worry about it. The beautiful thing about using options is it’s cheap. It’s a great way to tie up something for a period of time and go from there.
Let me give you a case study of some things that we’ve done with using options in the past. A couple of years back, I was getting tapes. As we get to the end of the year, more and more private sellers are interested in moving assets and they will often build a more creative to flexible arrangements. That’s where options really come in handy, is really the last 90 days of the year, the last three months of the year especially December. A hedge fund buddy sent me a list of assets. It was about 116 different note deals, notes secured by real estate in all areas of the country: North Carolina, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Florida, Georgia, some in Vegas. This goes back a little bit. I’ve seen the guy marketing this before and I already bought some assets from this man. What are you going to do with this list? I know that you can’t move the whole list because it’s just not that desirable.
I said, “Why don’t you let me do this? There’s got to be a creative way to do this.” As far as I know, I’m only one in two people that have put this together. I go to the seller and I go, “Why don’t you let me put your whole tape on an option agreement for $10? You give me your rock-bottom price, give me a reserved price of what you want across the board on all these assets. What will you take right now if you were to dump them all? What’s your drop dead price? Give me a non-exclusive option for the rest of the year, 60, 90 days, and I’ll make an agreement with you. I will share with you what I sell them for and I’ll make you a deal. Anything that I can make $2,000 or more on your asset, so if you say you want to sell it at $6,000 and I make it at $8,000, that $2,000 all mine. I’ll make a deal with you. Anything I sell over $2,000, I’ll split at 75, 25; 75% of that commission goes to me, 25% goes to you. If it’s $6,000, I sell it for $10,000, great. That’s $4,000 of profits. I’ll split. I’ll give you an extra $1,000 and I’ll keep 75% of that extra $4,000.” They got $1,000 and instead of him getting to sell it at $6,000, he sold it at $7,000 and I made $3,000. That was motivation to allow him to do it.
The thing that you have to keep in mind is most sellers can’t market themselves out of a paper bag. They just can’t do it. They don’t have a clue how to do a lot of marketing. They’re good at asset acquisition but they’re not often very good at asset disposition or selling off, unless it’s in a bigger tranche. That’s the beauty about this time of year is you often have lower balance assets, not the bottom of the barrel. You’re going to have some fertilizer. You’re going to have some stuff in there that’s just ugly properties but there’s a right price shooting. Whether the lot has value or the note has some value? His name was Sasha and unfortunately, Sasha has passed from this world. Sasha basically says, “We’ll do that for you. Send me over the agreements.” Assuming it’s a one-page, non-exclusive option agreement, $10, signed off on it. He signs it and sends it back to us. I never even sent him the $10. The thing about contracts, you get something on it whether it’s $10 or I could put hugs and kisses or noogies or whatever. It could have been that. You got to have something exchanging with the contract to make it legitimate. Let’s say $10 signed off, and now I got these 100 assets that I can move. He gives me his rock bottom reserve pricing and I can go to town.
If I’ve been really smart, I would have funded that dollar amount with a self-directed IRA. All the money that I made, basically brokering these deals or wholesaling them off, would have all gone into my IRA. If it was self-directed Roth IRA, it would have been tax-free growth. If it was a traditional, I would just pay taxes when I pull it out. Basically, what I did is then I got to work on those 100 assets. I literally jumped on different websites. I started creating individual pages. I found photos of the properties. I said, “You picked this asset. It’s actually worth $30,000,you could pick it up for $9,000 or $10,000. It’s a note. Pick it up. It’s occupied. It’s vacant.” You have to foreclose and you work your way through it. For the next 90 days, I was just a hustling fool. I was literally living in North Carolina at the time. This is on my three-year non-stop travel across the United States. I was staying with friends there in a little small town called Taylorsville in North Carolina. Staying with some friends of mine, Jamie and Lanny Harrington, these people were great. Jamie ran a mortgage company, actually she still does. I think she’s out in Hickory now. She gave me an offer. She’s like, “We’re friends. I have to make money on deals,” coached them on some other things before. I would come in, I would be posting to Craigslist, I would be posting, “I got these deals,” talking to buyers, talking to sellers.
Sasha cracked up at me because after about two weeks, I started putting some things together. I would call him to say, “Sasha, I got an offer on this one at $10,000. It’s for $5,000. This is what you have your rock bottom. Let’s get this thing moving.” He’s like, “Sure, done.” It would be individual contracts. Contracts would go direct to the sellers on those. Eventually what he did was, ” Scott, here’s the contract that we’ve used. You just fill it out and send it to us what it is, have the money wired in and we’ll wire the money right back to you and your part.” That’s exactly what we did. Basically, I worked like a broker for Sasha’s firm for the next 90 days. I made over $100,000 on those deals that I was able to move just putting something together. I made a deal happen basically out of thin air. It was sometimes next-door neighbors. Sometimes I was jumping on Whitepages and Spokeo and other things like those. Tracking down the next door neighbors, “Would you like to pick up the asset that’s next to you or the house next to you, the lot that’s next to you? It’s vacant. I work with a fund who owns this, who’s looking to move this.” I was doing anything I could think of. I was advertising in Craigslist in California. I was just going on BackPage.com to post some stuff. I was sending emails out of it, doing whatever I could to make things happen.
You could even calculate. If you figure out making over $100,000 in 90 days on a $10 option fee, that’s a pretty sweet time frame because I went to work on it. I was in front of my computer. I didn’t really have a big, not like I have now, network of people. I wasn’t doing a lot of videos at the time. I was literally just churning and burning using free sources, using Backpage. Craigslist is where we got most of our buyers from. I did go on to MeetUp.com and post in different real estate groups. When I found two or three closers that were near in the area, going to post, “We got some of these assets here. Here’s a photo. Here’s what the going price is.” The biggest handicap I had with advertising like that is since these were note deals, I had cash buyers. “I want to buy that house.” “You know you’ve got to foreclose. This is a note deal. You can pick up this note cheap but you still got to foreclose to take the property back.” “That’s not a problem.” It was really good.
Average commission on this was $5,000 a pop. I was getting $0.75 on that, Sasha was getting the other 25, but it was a bonus to him to make better than we did but it was a trusting situation. For years until Sasha passed away, Sasha would call me up, “I got some more stuff. Do you want to look at?” He didn’t always have a lot of stuff to move but I build a lot of trust that when he did have something I was the guy that he called because nobody else came to him with that option. Could I have just said, “Give me $10, give me the whole thing. Put it under contract for $10,” and go from there and not giving that extra 25%? Yeah, I totally could have. Did he market it to somebody else to find a higher buyer? No, he didn’t. He didn’t have the time to go out and market some stuff. If he had come to somebody and they want to pay $10,000 or $6,000 and can close next week, by all means go ahead. Take it, I’ll still work with the other 100. It was just that we had a clear communication along the way. I told him exactly what I was going to do with it and we made it work. I’ve done it with a couple other hedge funds over the last couple of years, “Let me put this tape under an option. Give me your hard number on this stuff. Give me 30 days to make it happen. We’ll go from there.” We’re going to probably do this a little bit at the next Note Mastermind.
The beauty of this too is if you have an educational savings account or a Coverdell account with Quest or another self-directed IRA company, this is a great way to get some quick cash into your IRA accounts. You fund it with a $100, find a buyer, wholesale it really fast, flip it, bring the money back in, and it becomes the fact that you invested $100 and say you made $1,000, $2,000, $5,000, or $10,000. That’s a true investment. It’s a true quick turn. You don’t want to run a business out of your accounts, you probably want to do the whole 100 assets or something like that or 50. If you did one, two or three of these once a quarter to four or five at the end of the year, you could really boost the amount that you put into your IRA account to make things happen. You could start off an account $100, $200, $500 and that could be five option fees to make something happen. You don’t have that too much hit to really take things to the next level. There’s a buyer for everything, the right price for this. Next-door neighbor who wants the lot to expand it cheap. You could do some creative things. One of the things that we’ve done and I know that Jay Tenenbaum, my buddy does and Wayne Snell does is if you buy something as a trashed up property, reach out to the next-door neighbor. Get a deed in lieu from the borrower, make sure there’s no liens that fall in the first place, but just forgive the debt and reach out to the next door, “Do you want to buy this lot? Do you want to expand your property lines by a little? Give me $500 down and I’ll let you make payments for the next twelve or 24 months.” You could set that stuff up in your IRA account just to churn and burn.
We have done some creative things with options. I worked with another investor who’s creating first and seconds. What they did is they bought a ransacked apartment complex that needs some work. They condo converted the property. They went to the tenants which is near the UT law firm. This is a genius way. The minute they condo converted it to condos instead of apartments, it add the value up immediately. It boosts the value of these assets up to almost $65,000, $70,000 a door. They went and knocked on all the doors and talked to the tenants there who are all UT law students or things like that and said, “Would you be interested in buying this? Would your family be interested in buying the units? We’ll offer financing. You can bring 5% to 10% down. We’ll do 80-10-10; 10% down payment, 10% seconds, and the 80% first.” They were able to sell off the 80% first, the closing table for roughly $0.90 on the dollar.
You have a $70,000 condo, $56,000 first, $7,000 second, and then a $7,000 down payment; 10%, 10% second, and 80% first. You bought this complex literally for less than $400,000, so it is less than $40,000 a door. If you think about this, you sell them at $70,000 a door, getting $7,000 down payment on average, create the first mortgage at $56,000, sell them this $56,000 mortgages off at $0.90 on the dollar so you’re closer to $50,000, putting $8,000 in off the note sale, it’s great stuff, $7,000 down payment. Then the second mortgage is sitting out there, he could sell those off to an IRA account, that entity that he didn’t manage that set everything up on that, there’s a trade advantage. Remember it’s important to don’t own anything but control everything. He was able to move those second mortgages that he bought on an option agreement into his IRA for cashflow. Crazy story that Bob and Jay put together, amazing deal here. I got to see it at first hand, one of the most creative stories I’ve seen. You can get creative in some of those stuff if you get a good price.
Owner financing, you’ve got to be careful on it. It’s a different time today, different market than it was ten plus years ago. You’re not getting as good a price in your finance mortgages or newly created or originated like you would ten years ago but that market’s coming back stronger. Option agreement is a one-page really simple, easy form. No, I’m not going to send you an option agreement. You can find one online. A non-exclusive option agreement is basically the same thing as an option form. It says non-exclusive across the top instead of option agreement. It just basically is a one paragraph that says, “This is non-exclusive. Seller has the right to move the asset but buyer has the first right of refusal to match what the seller is looking.”
We use an option agreement to tie up some really nice, high-end condos in San Diego on Pacific Beach one time. Gorgeous, immaculate, $1 million plus, $1.5 million property. These three units, one was supposed to be worth $1.5 million, $1.25 million and then one $900,000 right at a $1 million. We found out the seller was interested so I asked him to put it under option agreement for all three. He did. He gave us 30 days to go out and find a buyer for these and he was being, “I’ve got a buyer who’s going to buy them all.” He could never provide a contract saying that, “We got an offering.” That he’s somebody’s who’s going to pay off. He was just trying to put the heat on us. It took us two weeks to find somebody that came in. We found somebody who was an end buyer but we were able to go back to the bank whose finance is mortgage of the Bank of Arizona if I remember correctly, and negotiated a note purchase on these three condos. Roughly 75% of what was owed and able to sandwich in a short sale buyer on the back-end with us buying the note. We tied up the property originally with an option agreement and then we finalized it with a hard contract from a short sale. We back ended both deals a little bit. Using options are great, $10, $100 don’t really have to do much more than that.
The biggest key with option agreements is just having the communication and honestly having the huevos, the balls. If you have balls, you’re just higher up to ask, “Would you like to put this in our option agreement? Can I put this whole thing in an option agreement? Would you give me the opportunity to put this on our option agreement and put my mouth where my money is and market this for you?” I’ve told this story a couple of times out there especially on my Mastermind group. I actually found the original option agreement that’s in my email. I’m like, “I’ve got to keep that in my pocket.” As we get to the end of the year, you’re going to see more and more sellers have assets, stuff they own, or stuff that they’re looking to get rid of who are willing to be able to be more flexible to make things happen. The book by Ron LeGrand, very easy to read too, How to Make Money Using Options and Wholesaling. Options are not hard. It’s worth opening up an IRA at Quest IRA and throwing in $500 to $1,000 and just play around with this. This is a great way to grow your Roth, your 401(k), your solo 401(k), your SEP accounts, your Coverdells. There’s a lot of great things to do with this. It’s just a matter of putting in place.
You’ve got to remember, “I got that little deal. Let me put this option on this property.” If you’re using your IRA, of course you can’t self-deal, so you’ve got to keep the assets that you’re working through a little bit separate than the ones you’re doing. You can’t have co-mingling of funds. You don’t want to do that. You’d have to do just separate like $100 and identify the assets that you’re trying to option on. Greg Arcizo, an active investor as well, approached me and say, “Scott, I want to make an offer on a couple of these assets.” I was like, “I got a better idea. Let’s see if we can throw an option on it through your IRA and then move it. It will help you wholesale it off and makes a nice chunk of change as a good ROI.” He’s like, “It’s a good idea.” I’ve got a couple that I’ve identified in a new tape that we’re working through right now that may be able to use that and make it happen.
Option’s pretty easy. It’s a one-page agreement. It’s more of discussion, “This is what we’re doing. Give us your reserve price. Give us your hard fast price.” It doesn’t have to be a note. You can do options with traditional pieces of property as well, real estate. Oftentimes you’ll see options on land. This is a great feature. I know of a gentleman who, before South Florida became what it was years ago, he went around to South Florida years ago when it was just all this old, three-storey hotels and went around all the buyers and got options on all that property, on what they wanted to. He put an option on it. He hit a five-year option period on it. What happened is values went up. He had an option agreement for what the property’s worth five years ago. What he did, he just went out and found developers who understood what was going on there and negotiated to them buying the sale from him, buying the property at the rock-bottom price. The guy signed off in option agreement, the seller had to sell it. That’s one thing. It’s important in single-family homes or commercial deals, if you do get an option agreement, go and record that option agreement down the county clerk.
I have another investor here locally, Tina out of Georgetown. She was negotiating a deal here in Austin, Texas with a buyer and sell the property. She got him to sign an option agreement. She went recorded it and had a one-year time frame. The seller negotiated the sale with somebody else. He was unscrupulous, another investor. They went and sold it but guess what showed up at closing? Tina’s option agreement. She was able to collect on the difference between what she negotiated with versus what they were selling it for him. It got a little bit ugly with the seller but she was able to negotiate. She said, “You signed off this and recorded it. I have this option agreement for a time period and you violated that.” That’s a really cool thing. Tina Latta, a realtor up in Georgetown, Texas. Last time I heard, she was up at that neck of the woods where she shared that story with me on there.
Back to the guy in Florida, literally he made over $40 million, and I’m not joking, using option agreements on all that property down there. If I was Batman, I would go find where the path of progress is going in your city, in your area. Go out and talk to people that maybe they’re a mile out of town right now. There’s nothing going on except raw land and the cows more than people out there or the blackbirds, and see if you can put those piece of property in an option agreement to give you a five-year option for it. I guarantee in five years, property values will mostly go up. What happens if the value goes down? You just walk away. You’re only out what your option fee is. That’s one of the greatest get-out-of-jail cards that I’ve ever seen. It’s not a true contract but it secures your position that help you enforce a contract later on for you.
Most of your self-directed IRA companies are very knowledgeable with this especially at Quest. I know that Quincy and Nathan Long and their staff there will understand using options. Quincy and I get in conversations back and forth when we visited. Using options are an easy thing. It’s not that difficult. Sometimes you just got to be a little bit outside the box. I think a lot of people get stuck in the mud, in the rut of making offers. They get scared, “I can’t make an offer. I can’t close on all of it. If I’m making $135,000 on offers, I might have to come up with 135 because all of it is going to close.” That’s never the case. Never, never, never these things always close 100% of the time, especially in the note space.
Another thing that might be well to do especially for those that are in Florida or Houston or stuff like that, go around and negotiate with people right now who want to walk away from their houses. Get an option, “Give me an option to buy your property cheap,” and then just go and find another investors that want to buy or maybe doing a twelve-month option on the property and go around find somebody who wants to buy something above as these fear factors kick in right now as the market starts to come back up a little bit. Use that down trip right now, negotiate a contract cheaper than an option agreement, and sell that option off later on to a higher price to somebody. There’s some really cool things that you could do to make things.
Options are pretty easy to deal with. I know not many people talk about them that much or maybe others I just may not notice it. It’s just a little creative niche to secure you some things. Nobody’s going to negotiate for $10 on a $1 million assets. You never know how motivated some seller might be to make things happen. You don’t get a yes without asking. What’s the worst thing to say, “No, thank you.” “Can I get a week option? Can I get a two-week? Can I get a 30-day?” I always like try to ask for 30 days or more if possible, “Can I get a 45-day option on this while I work through some things?” You’ll never know what kind of situation the seller might be in or the property owner, or the note holder maybe in. They may be totally new, and maybe the first bite they got on that asset in forever or on a long time? They may be more open to your options of putting things in your option as you get closer here to the end of the year. I don’t necessarily see a lot of stuff happen during the summer times or the peak times where a lot of people are like, “No I’m not going to do any because I’m going to have to foot traffic or get plenty of offers or stuff like that.” As you get closer to December, a lot of the hedge funds, a lot of the sellers will get a little bit more creative, a little bit more open doing things especially if they know you can market, if they know that you have a database of some things. That’s an important thing to keep in mind.
I look back at some things. Regrettably, I should have put some option agreements down on some assets that we’ve been marketing for the last few months. I should have done that. I could have saved my position. That would have been a mistake. I should have never marketed an asset without having an option agreement on first. That’s a mistake that I have made in the last twelve months. I wouldn’t have the seller sell off some of those assets to third parties without me being able to know about it. A big lie just hit me right there while we’re talking about this, “I should have done this. I should have done that.” I think we learn more from mistakes that we made than from the victories that we have. If you’ve enjoyed this or you enjoyed listening to this, it’s not that hard to do. It’s not that difficult to do. I won’t send you my option agreement so don’t ask. You can go Google an option agreement and hoping to find a decent one that works well for you. That’s really what I love. We’ve talked about wholesaling. Wholesaling is putting things together and you’ve got the wholesale agreement. An option agreement is just its very closely related cousin to wholesaling. Option allows you to do some things and actually have a little skin in the game.
A lot of wholesalers though want to just find something and then market it off and then try to go back and put it under contract. This way, you put it under contract, you got a 30-day period, a two-week period, a 45, 60-day, 90-day option period. You could use some flexibility from a pretty cheap pricing. Who wouldn’t give you $10 or even a $100 to secure a deal like that? The beautiful thing about an option agreement is it allows you to hold somebody’s foot to the fire, taking them at their word, great, “I trust you with that price. Let’s go ahead and put it in our option agreement, $10, first right refusal.” Hopefully, you learn from the mistakes. That’s the whole idea. We make enough mistakes and I say we, I’m talking about all of us out there. We always learn more from our mistakes than our successes. Successes make us look like brilliant geniuses but how you take your mistakes and how you learn from them evolve into being a smarter, not only investor but entrepreneur just so that you don’t make the same mistakes later on.
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Options aren’t really that hard. Just do something. If you see tapes that are direct from the seller, that’s a big thing. You will not get an option agreement from a wholesaler or a joker broker. You’ve got to be direct to make it happen. That’s the only way to making it enforceable. If you get one on a single asset, go record it. Go record your option agreement on a single-family or commercial deal. It’s a low price. Go record it especially if it’s a longer term option agreement. If you’re doing something on the edge of town or the path of progress, you’re dealing with something in a blighted area, that’s people have gone through problems i.e. Houston with Harvey or Irma with Florida in the Gulf Coast. A lot people are just walking away from properties and would be glad to take a nickel and a dime for something that they maybe at one point own free and clear.
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