Friday, September 25, 2009

I Survived Real Estate 2009 part 1 #141

This week The Norris Group Real Estate Radio Show presents Part 2 of I Survived Real Estate 2009.

Rick Sharga from RealtyTrac start off the show talking about current foreclosure trends and the moratoria that have delayed the inevitable foreclosure wave coming to the market. Rick is followed by John Young of Young Homes and is Vice President of the California Builders Industry Association. John Young gives the audience some insight inti what the building association is currently dealing with and what the profession is pushing for to level the playing field for the building industry.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

I Survived Real Estate 2009 #140

This week The Norris Group Real Estate Radio Show presents Part 1 of “I Survived Real Estate 2009”. Aaron Norris starts the show by discussing the purpose of the event. I Survived 2009 is a breast cancer fundraiser. All donations received for this event were given to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation. The Norris family has been personally touched by cancer, as Marsha Norris has been fighting cancer for 14 years.

The Susan G. Komen “Walk for the Cure” is September 27th at Newport Beach. Donations both small and large are appreciated. You can visit to learn how you can still get involved. The video of the event will be posted later next week.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Sean O'Toole with PropertyRadar #139

Bruce Norris is joined this week by CEO of, Sean O'Toole. He is a real estate investor and the founder and CEO of

Bruce bought a trustee sale recently using Sean's website. Bruce asks Sean how has being an investor influenced the content of his website? Sean says that he built the site for his own use, and that he had not planned on making it a public site. Bruce believes that no one could have put Sean's site together unless they new the real estate business. More experienced people are able to recognize the small things that make big differences.

One of the tools on that has helped Sean is the transaction history of a property. You can use this tool to discover how the previous owner of a home bought and lost it. When you are looking at 100 properties every day, in the hopes of gaining just 5, the ability to quickly observe a property is of critical importance.

Foreclosure Radar started in California, and it has recently expanded into Arizona, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon. Foreclosure Radar publicly launched in May of 2007.

Bruce asks Sean how the quantity of foreclosures has changed since 2002. The change has amazed Sean. Sean started working in just a couple counties, but he was having trouble finding deals, so he started expanding. In 2006, the number of foreclosures being filed increased dramatically, so Sean realized that he could not afford to do research on all of those properties.

Bruce asks if the process of getting information is physically obtained, or if it is now computerized. All the documents and information must be physically obtained, and then typed into a computer. Sean thinks that this is a problem.

There is a tutorial on the website. Bruce asks Sean what the section FLX is for. That section is aimed at realtor customers. Sean wanted to make the website more interactive with photos and more search capabilities. If you go to a Realtor’s website, they have something called an IDX search in which you can search for properties with different types of bedrooms and baths. Sean wanted Foreclosure Radar to be the foreclosure MLS. FLX allows customers to show foreclosures on their own website. Consumers do not have many options for foreclosure information besides RealtyTrac and, so Sean wanted people to be able to access that information for free.

Sean’s clients consist mostly of realtors, professional investors, and government users. Our local and county governments are looking for new revenue opportunities. They are now able to fine lenders up to $1,000 dollars a days for not maintaining their REO properties. Every time Bruce closes an escrow he always checks to see if it is an REO. A trustee sale is safer, because the fine does not begin until the property transfers.

Bruce asks if Sean has considered training people in real estate. Sean has decided to stay out of the training business because he has learned that there are many different approaches and he wants to support everyone.

Bruce asks Sean to compare the default numbers occurring between now and one year ago, in California. The default numbers have remained mostly flat. In July there were 45,000, and in June there were 46,000, and Sean believes that there was a drop in August. Last year, the default numbers were around 42,000 to 40,000. The people who are late on their payments have almost doubled within the last year. Bruce asks if Sean has any explanation for why the default notices have not reflected that. During September of last year, Fannie and Freddie went into conservatorship, the moratoriums began, and Paulson announced that he was seeking TARP. What Paulson’s message told the market was that these assets are being sold in distress, it is a temporary problem, if these loans are not forced into foreclosure then there will be no losses, and we should use funds to buy these assets from banks. This told the banks, if you have band loans, we will help you out, but if you have bad homes, then you will have to take the loss.

Last time this kind of problem occurred, the lenders responded the same way. They chose not to foreclose on properties. In 1995, a rule was passed that required lenders to foreclose on a property after 100 days. Bruce finds it interesting that the government was once forcing lenders to foreclose, but now they are helping them delay the process. The FDIC is now promoting loan modifications and Sean thinks that is just delaying the inevitable.

Bruce asks if Sean sees loan modifications taking a chunk out of the price. Sean believes that this is occurring. Last year, in California, we had 65,000 properties scheduled for foreclosure auction, and nearly 29,000 properties were foreclosed on. This year, we will have 130,000 scheduled for sale. We have doubled the number of properties being scheduled for sale, yet only 17,500 of those properties have actually been foreclosed on. The new home affordability program has a 3 month trial period, so they are putting people into foreclosure and starting this trial period, but they do not actually foreclose on them. What Sean is waiting to see is whether or not the cancellations of these foreclosures sales are going up. If this occurs then we will know that the modifications are working. So far, Sean has not seen any sign that these modifications are working.

130,000 scheduled sales are 6 to 9 months of inventory. History has shown that modifications do not work very well. However, more recent modifications seem to be working better than the previous ones. The average property that makes it through the foreclosure process is about 200,000 dollars upside down.

A new term has come up called a “strategic foreclosure”. This means that a person is capable of making their payments but they are deciding not to do so. Bruce asks if these people are adding to the pile. Sean believes that this makes sense on many levels. If a person makes a bad investment in a property then they can choose to walk away from it, and declare bankruptcy in the worst case. Right now, there are so many people making the decision to walk away from their homes that people no longer feel morally responsible to make their payments.

Sean O'Toole is Founder & CEO of, the only company that tracks every foreclosure in California with daily updates on all foreclosure auctions. Prior to ForeclosureRadar Sean spent 15 years building and launching software companies before entering the foreclosure business in 2002 where he has successfully bought and sold more than 150 foreclosure properties.

Friday, September 4, 2009

National Real Estate Investors Association #138

This week Bruce is joined by Rebecca McLean and Charles Tassle. Rebecca is the Executive Director of Nation Real Estate Investors Association, and Charles is the Director of legislation affairs.

From 2000 to 2005 NREIA’s membership greatly increased. In 2002, NREIA only had 44 groups. In 2004-2005 the membership grew to over 200 groups, and in 2006-2007 the membership grew to 250 organizations. Rebecca estimates that NREIA’s peak membership was around 45,000. NREIA is a federation of local real estate investing associations. Since the market peaked, NREIA has gone down to 230 groups, but there are still people sending in applications every day asking if they can start a local REIA.

Bruce wonders if some of these groups have developed from a group of speculators to a group of investors in which they have the mentality of holding on to real estate. There are more experienced people in the real estate business now than there are people who are new and curious about real estate.

Charles believes it is better to approach legislation with a group of people who are viewed as investors rather than speculators. When NREIA representatives present themselves to state and federal legislation, they try to explain to the government that they are just as much of an investor as they are a local business owner. They contribute a significant amount to the community just like associations such as CAR and NAR. Bruce thinks that too many associations approach Congress with a single minded purpose. They do not consider the investors when they work with the government to change things. Rebecca agrees with Bruce on this issue. What makes NREIA unique is that membership includes Realtors, appraisers, and investors, and this has helped open the eyes of government leaders to realize that NREIA’s members represent a different segment of the real estate industry.

California has too many homes that are going to go back to the lenders in disrepair. Most of the loan programs are geared towards selling the next home to owner occupants, but owner occupants will not be interested in buying these damaged homes. These loan programs will not work without the help of investors, and NREIA has tried explaining this to congress.

Part of the purpose that NREIA has in coming before Congress is to gain respect, so Congress will be more interested in hearing NREIA’s opinions on important topics. Congress has a niche mentality. Each Congressional office latches onto different groups that deal with specific issues.

Bruce has interviewed many people and he has found that people appreciate when he helps to explain what his interviewees are trying to write about. Bruce asks if Charles gets to assist Congress by explaining legislation. Charles says that Congress does ask for NREIA’s perspective.

Bruce asks how politically motivated Congress members are to stand up for certain ideas that may be unpopular. Charles says that in the end, it comes down to the impact of voters. NREIA is supporting the bill HR 3440 which changes the way Realtors and dealers are recognized so that people will not be considered a dealer just because they have done a couple installment loans. This will increase the number of land contracts. As NREIA has explained this to Congress, they gained an understanding of how their voters would benefit from the bill and they started to gain interest in the bill.

203K loans were once available to investors, but that program was taken away from investors in 1996. The program allows people to get financing for a house including the repairs. Bruce asks if it is politically unfavorable to help investors. Charles says that investors are no longer an unfavorable group to support. The mortgage brokers and the appraisers are currently the politically unfavorable groups. People who are rehabbing properties are considered politically favorable. REIA has been making an effort to display investors as an important group of people in the real estate industry. Communities that were once not so open to investors are now open because investors have done a great service for them. There are a lot of misconceptions about what happens to an area when there are a lot of rentals there. Bruce was recently interviewed on a television show and the people who viewed his properties were astonished and pleased by the results they saw. People need to be exposed to the changes that investors make in communities. The work that investors do increase employment, increase the values of neighborhoods, and also increase tax revenue. Rebecca estimates that investors contribute about $3 billion dollars to the economy because of the other businesses that are affected by investors.

Bruce asks how investors can send a message to the people who are in charge of financing options that we need more generous financing because it is very difficult to get financing for rentals and properties that need to be fixed. Charles says that banks are looking for a 750 credit score. Right now the banks are sitting on a lot of cash, and NREIA is hoping that HR 3440 will help encourage the banks to lend that cash out.

Right now there is a program that gives owner occupants an $8,000 check for buying their first property. Bruce thinks that it would be better if existing loans could be taken over subject to without worrying about an assumption fee or the lender calling the loan due. FHA once had a loan in which people did not have to qualify for taking over the payment. Under this loan, all you had to do was send in a fee. Bruce asks if there has been any talk about this sort of loan being available again. Charles says that this has not been discussed, but the chances of this showing up will increase as long as NREIA has an influence on Congress.

In California, there are many investors who 1031 exchanged to other states, but cannot return back now. If they exchange without financing, they will have to pay a hefty tax bill, and they cannot get financing once they pass the 10 property limit. A lot of the decisions we are making are preventing our problems from being solved more easily. Rebecca says that part of the problem is that making good changes, which will help investors, may not be politically favorable. As investors continue to be displayed in a positive light, our chances of having helpful legislation get passed will increase.

Bruce asks what date NREIA’s “Day on the Hill” is scheduled for. This event traditionally goes on during April. The technology conference is coming up soon. This conference will allow NREIA to tell people about what NREIA is doing legislatively. NREIA is trying to make investors look good to the public. Information for “Day on the Hill” will be posted on the website after the technology conference, and people will also have the ability to register there.

Bruce asks Charles if there are any bills coming up that are bad for investors. Charles says that there a couple bill trends that are concerning. One is the foreclosure moratoriums, and there is a foreclosure modification process being proposed. This means that judges or someone else will be given the power to modify loans. This modification process is meant to save people from foreclosure, which seems good, but if we do not deal with our problems on a piece by piece basis we will cause more problems.

To find out more about the National Real Estate Investors Association, visit their website at

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