Written by Jeffrey R. Armstrong – President/Owner of Armstrong Capital
Your favorite Master Note Buyer – Straightforward, Honest, Fair…
I’ve been a member of the million dollar club for many years and I am often asked how I did it. Well, the short answer is with lots of hard work, persistence, focus, desire, effort, knowledge and skill. But it all started with that very first deal when I knew deep down that this would work for me. That very first deal gave me the confidence I needed to continue working and growing the business. So for those of you who have not heard it before, this is the story of my very first deal.
I took the course in May of 1991. They gave me five days of information, practice, role playing, and calculator work topped off by a 200 question test! Of course I passed and I received my certificate and designation as a Certified Mortgage Investor. I received a handshake and was wished the best of luck. With no funding source directory, minimal support and my five days of notes in hand I started Armstrong Capital.
My first course of action was to find some funding sources. In the meantime, we were taught to go the county court house to search the county records looking for note holders and writing down their names and addresses. At the Los Angeles county recorder’s office it took me about three months of searching microfiche tapes 3-5 days a week 4-6 hours a day to collect a list of a little over 200 names. Still searching for a funding source that would allow me to broker a note to them I continued to search the county records every week.
Nine months after I took the class I finally found a funding source that would work with me. I was taught to send out letters to the note holders so I prepared my first mailing. I didn’t have a computer so I typed up a form letter, copied them at Kinko’s and then typed in the name, address and salutation with a typewriter, one at a time! The next week, I distinctly remember I received seven calls and filled out seven worksheets. I did exactly what I was taught. I got quotes from the funding source, subtracted my fees and presented my offers. One person really needed the money and accepted my offer.
The note holder was a little old lady in South Gate. I gathered the copies of documents the funding source requested and waited for them to perform their due diligence. A few weeks later they were ready to send out the closing documents. The seller was adamant that she did not want to send her original documents to the funding source and wait for a check. She wanted to sign her documents, hand over her originals and collect her money at the same time, a common seller issue. The seller did not have a car nor did she drive or have any relatives close by that could help.
This being my first transaction I didn’t want it die or get cancelled. At the time I drove a Nissan King Cab 4×4 pick up. It was lifted about six inches and had big tires on it. SO, I washed and waxed my truck, cleaned it all up, put on some decent business like clothes on and drove down to South Gate, about an hour and a half in traffic, and picked up the seller at her apartment. I brought a little stool so she could climb into my truck and we were on our way. We had a very nice conversation as we drove to the funding sources office which was way back where I lived, another hour and a half.
When we arrived she gave all of her paperwork to the funding source, they picked out the original note and original Deed of Trust, had the seller sign and notarize a couple of documents and then disappeared into a back room. The investor came out a few minutes later with a check made out to the seller and the transaction was complete. Or so I thought. When she got back in my truck and I started to drive her back to her apartment she asked if we could stop at her bank, Crocker National, and cash the check! I obliged and took her to the bank. She cashed the check and put all the money in her little grandma purse (you know the type). I got her back to her apartment as quickly as I could, walked her to the apartment and made sure she locked the door. Whew!
Not done yet, now I wanted to get paid. SO, I drove back to the funding sources office and picked up my first check! Woohoo, I closed my first transaction, it was done! It was an all day ordeal but boy did it give me a lot of confidence in the business and in myself. It was then that I could actually see myself doing the business and I knew that this business was going to work for me.
I will tell you this, that was the one and only time I EVER met the seller of a note face to face in the 16 years I’ve been doing this business. For myself, I found that it really has not been necessary in the real estate note niche to meet the sellers face to face. I have done all of my business over the phone, by overnight mail and by internet/email.
When you start this business the hardest thing to do is to get that first deal under your belt. Once you do you just repeat the process and continue to grow. The next thing you know you’ll be writing an article and telling people how you got started! Keep on marketing, it’s going to work!