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Article of the Month for November 2001

Nothing To Lose

Question:

Ward,
I read your response to a previous mentoring request. You probably already have a lot of people asking you to mentor them. I live in AZ and am also looking to get into Pre-Foreclosure real estate investments.

Unfortunately there is so much info out there that I don't know where to start. So, would you be willing to take on another student? Any advice on starting the process? Should I just get a realtor and go for it or is there another beginning approach I should consider.

What I like about your article is that you thoroughly took advantage of a lot of free/public information to build your knowledge base. Wow, what commitment and dedication. What made you get into this in the first place? Are you still involved?

=============================

Reply:

I'm embarrassed to tell you that it took me three different attempts to get into the foreclosure business before I finally made it. I was a very busy real estate agent in 1976, buying and selling apartment houses for investors, when I became curious about the occasional apartment complex foreclosures I'd hear about.

I just assumed without any real basis, that I could just add foreclosure investing to what I was already doing, sorta as a sideline. Man, what a surprise when I discovered how much I didn't know!! So after the first month, I canceled my subscription to our local foreclosure notice service. And then, silly me, I repeated my mistake all over again just two years later, in 1978!

Yep, I subscribed all over again. Mainly because a new owner took over the local foreclosure notice service here, and I fell for his malarkey, that I could do the business part-time because of some changes he had made to the service.

Wrong!! So after that second abortive attempt I cooled it until 1982, when our local real estate market started to disintegrate at warp speed, because interest rates rose so incredibly high (16 to 18%).

However at that point, the third time I signed up for the foreclosure service, I had no stars in my eyes. I absolutely knew it would require 100% of my effort. And at that time I had absolutely nothing else going for me, and more importantly, nothing to lose by embracing it with both arms!

In fact, of the dozen or so very successful foreclosure trainees my wife and I have trained over these last 20 years, the most important ingredient essential to their success, in my humble opinion, was that they had NOTHING TO LOSE.

I mean, they had no great career they could fall back on, no boss willing to take them back if it didn't work out, no soft landing if they crashed in foreclosures, you know what I mean??

Sure, we like to think we gave them a fantastic headstart with our exhaustive, 3 day, one-on-one training and unlimited post-training access, but we do that with every one of our trainees, even the ones that don't do a thing. No, the difference between GREAT and MEDIOCRE is something you can't get from anyone or anywhere but from deep within yourself.

I just about think it's essential for one's success that they start out with almost everything against them!! I mean that initially their family, friends even their spouse think they're nuts. That they have peanuts for capital and that they have absolutely no real estate experience whatsoever, or if they did, that it be totally unassociated with being directly involved in buying and selling houses.

However, what you absolutely must have in spades, is an unquenchable DETERMINATION to stick it out through thick and thin, plus 100+% of your time, to devote to the endeavor without getting sidetracked in any way.

In my case I just had to succeed, no if's and's or but's about it. I had sold my home, a home my family and I loved, against the wishes of my wife and our three boys, to get my initial grubstake of $86K. There were some long, sourpuss faces in my household for months, living in someone's rental house, while I desperately tried to figure out how to master foreclosures well enough to make a good living at it.

I had no room for failure. I couldn't have tolerated the humiliation, not just from folks on the outside, but more importantly, from my family and all that I had put them through chasing the dream of making my success from foreclosure investments.

I became a maniac about knowing everything I could about foreclosures because I couldn't tolerate risking that 86K. If I lost that I truly would have been sunk. I triple checked everything before I believed it. I didn't care what someone's credentials were, I would check and re-check to make sure what they told me was accurate. And believe me I probably jettisoned about half of what most people told me because it was often based on opinion rather than fact.

In a few months we will have been in the foreclosure business for 20 years. It has been the best thing I've ever done in my life to make money. From that gusher we have managed to re-invest some of it into 16 rentals (my dingbats) that just pump out money, month after month after month. Each property is protected from seizure through vesting it in an irrevocable, title holding trust, with an LLC as it's trustee and our living trust as the beneficiary of all of them.

Now that we're set for good I find that I'm attracted more and more to making it easier for others to mimic our success. I'm especially driven to making it easier for folks to get to the foreclosure information they want. That's why we're constantly adding resource tools to our website and why I continue doing 10 public foreclosure seminars a year, on behalf of County Records Research in Huntington Beach, CA. Though it's a long drive every time, from San Diego to Orange County, I love the chance to talk on my most favorite topic, investing in foreclosure property.

And that's why I especially like the interactive aspect of web-based, foreclosure discussion boards-such as the one on my own web site (www.foreclosureforum.com) and two others I'm fond of (www.therealestatelibrary.com) and (www.all-foreclosure.com). And finally, that's why I have added the 5 hour foreclosure classes to our training repertoire rather than just our main hands-on, three day, foreclosure class that we've taught for years.

I think people are really blessed once they know what they actually want to do for a living. It took me 42 years, but I've been thrilled ever since.

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