NPN Update

19 Oct

It was surprising that not even one person showed any interest in the performing note I offered a few blogs ago.  It was such a good deal!  I really considered buying the note myself (through my SEP-IRA), but after some research I found that you have to conduct all the SEP-IRA transactions completely at arms-length.  While, I’m not 100% certain, I think my affiliation in both companies would make it unlawful.  That said, you guys should think about using your retirement funds to get into a high-interest, well collateralized performing note is a really good idea.

All of our current notes have been sold, but our company will have other deals like in the future, so I want you guys to start thinking about those type of investments.   I’m sure I will offer up some more.  (The first step in doing creative IRA stuff is to get a self-directed custodian).

As far as our packages are going, the original 27 house list is getting close to wrapping up.  We expect to end up right around a 75% return.  We had hoped to clear 100%, but we made a few mistakes and overall could have been more efficient than we were.  Our biggest mistake by far was trusting the homeowner’s too much.  So often, they would seem on board with our plans to help them out.  Then, they would just straight flake out.  I guess that seems obvious that you shouldn’t trust dead-beats, but some people are just so damn believable.  Lesson learned.  I think if we went back in time, with our current knowledge, we’d clear a 100% return, no problem.

The 55 house list is still going strong.   It is however, taking longer than we had hoped.  We had a miscommunication with our foreclosure attorney that costed us some time – again I chalk it up to growing pains of a new company.  If you are an investor, you will probably get 3-4 more quarters of interest, and with a big chunk of your investor capital coming in 2-3 quarters.  After March 31st, tax season, there is really no reason to hold any money in our account, so it will all be getting distributed back to investors.

The third project has been quite a roller coaster thus far.  We got an amazing deal buying it as I mentioned before.   The problem was that in return for getting the package for pennies on the dollar, we had to take on some title issues.  Well, they ended up being worse than anticipated.  That wouldn’t have been particularly problematic, if the seller wasn’t a total putz and acted even close the the way he was contractually obligated.  Because of his ineptitude, we’ve incurred much expense and wasted time.  He sends us replacement files, so we spend a week doing due diligence, and then he says he find the files.   Stuff like that has made this process unbelievably frustrating. We are asking for a large settlement and/or will take him to court for the damages he’s caused.

Anyway, we do have clear assets now, and while we’ve decided that while we are still open to selling them if the price is right, we are going to work them through.  That’s pretty what our company does bets.  These assets are strong and have a BPO of easily over 1.5-2x the original investment (even thought it’s only 60% of the files!).  Anyway, with all the files, our team and I are going to be working like a crazy over the next year.  I’m in my element when I’m singularly focused, so although it’s just a ton of work, I’m feeling really good about it.

I justed finished a spreadsheet of some of the files we are working.  I’ve done a  BPO analysis and a lot of preliminary work needed to start a project like this.  If you are serious about the note game, I’d be more than happy to share it via email.  Just hit me up.

What’s up guys?

13 Aug

My life has been pretty crazy lately.   We our proud parents again.

Alexandra Sadauskas! alexandra

So we have that going for us :).  Alexandra has been SO much easier than Will (our first child) in terms of crying and sleeping.  Will didn’t stop crying for 4 months (he had a hernia, jaundice, colic and reflux!).  Alexandra is a walk in the park comparatively.   There is some huge variance on how hard or easy having a newborn can be.

In other news much less important news, we sold our lake house.   The final price was $496,000 which is less than I think the house is worth, but I didn’t want to keep it through the winter.  When you look at the big picture, I took a total bloodbath on the house, but sometimes you just have to stop the bleeding.  All in all, I am very happy to have it gone.  Certainly, my life is much simpler.  Don’t be YOLOing any major life decisions out there kids.  Let my pain be your guide.

Recently in my free time, I have been doing a little Omaha 8 or better coaching.  My student is a really smart, cool kid, with a great outlook on life, so I really enjoy it.  As part of the lessons, we have been reviewing some of the high stakes 2k/4k heads-up 08 hands.  It’s been very interesting.  I guess my overall thoughts are that I think every regular in that game is making some clear mistakes.  So, I’m just biding my time, sharpening, honing, crafting :).

From what I have heard, the SallyWoo, KPR16, and cottonseed1 crew are all friends (possibly roommates).  They are all limit holdem heads up experts and have transitioned over into Omaha8.  I think they each play a little differently, but certainly all have the same overall approach.  I like watching their play, because if they are doing things differently than me it’s not just random button-mashing.  They may be wrong, but its certainly calculated to some degree.  Some of the other players while talented, haven’t put in the same effort mathematically as the SallyWoo team probably has at 08.

Specifically that crew is making some interesting flop calls.  The most glaring to me are the flop calls with unimprovable 2nd pair hands out of position – e.g. calling KK84 on an AT8 flop.  In a single raised, pre-flop pot, you just aren’t going to be able to get to river often enough to justify your barely tenable hot and cold equity.   I haven’t done the math on it, and it’s possible they have, so it has me curious to do some more investigation.

I think Isildur1 is particularly brutal.  I am not getting the sessions in their entire flow, but I see no reason to be putting JT45 single suit in a flop 3 betting range.  While not a huge error in a vacuum, its shows a lack of understanding.   I’m a huge,huge Isildur1 fan, so definitely not hating, but he’s outclassed as of right now in that game.

What might surprise people is that I think Ivey is pretty bad also. The first hand I watched he called a button raise with QQ92 badugi – then called a flop bet on A3T two suit.   That’s a little ridiculous.  I think you would would have to have a pretty strange set of presumptions to make that play anywhere close to right.  Something like “opponent prone to time-outs” or “a walking disconnector” might be sufficient notes to sway it to a call.   For sure, a canon like Isildur1, with a high turn bet percentage, can’t be a good candidate.

Two quick Ivey stories:  I played him once online a few years ago at 100-200 when he was slumming it.  He won exactly 1 dollar off me said “thanks for the buck” and left.

Another time I played with him live in a tournament. I literally couldn’t stop staring at him.  I know I’m not alone in saying that he is the only player in poker than can truely make other pros star-struck .   His aura is just ridiculous.  I ended up busting him in that tournament – let’s just say I can relate to this guy.


Other than that, our team have been working diligently on our non-performing notes and I think we should have some big things happening in the next month or so.  I will keep everyone updated.  Stay tuned!

An interesting investment

26 Jun

Readers often email me investments opportunities they are considering, asking for my opinion on the deal.  I am always happy to help, and I usually learn something along the way.

In that vain, our company is currently offering a performing note that I think is a very good deal, and I thought some of you guys might want to hear about it.  This house is actually on the first list that the readers helped us fund!

The asset is a performing note (mortgage) on the property 49540 Fuller, Chesterfield, MI 48051.


If I were buying this asset here are a few questions I would ask:

Why are we selling?

Answer:  Our company is not in the business of holding notes long-term.  We have a time frame with our investors of 1-2 years.  Holding this note for 30 years is not really an option for us.

What is the interest rate and term of the note?

Answer:  It is a 30 year note with a 10% interest rate.  The monthly payment is fixed at $391.64.  At the end of 30 years, your investment would return $141,000.

How long has the borrower been paying?

Answer:  The original loan balance was $100,000 when the borrower went delinquent.  We modified his loan to $45,000, and the borrower has made every payment for 14 months right on schedule.

What happens if the borrower stops paying?

If the borrower stops paying, you will have to foreclose on the property.  We are serviced through a company called FCI, and if the buyer wanted to buy this note, FCI would seamlessly transfer the asset and manage it for $30/month.   A foreclosure usually costs $2500 and takes 3-6 months.  FCI can handle all of the work and it’s ridiculously easy for the note holder.  After the foreclosure, the investor would get the asset.  You would then have a realtor sell the property.  Honestly, this would be a best case scenario in terms of profit.

What is the underlying asset worth?

You would have to do your own due diligence on that, but Zillow is saying $81,400. To be on the safe side, I think something like $60,000-$70,000 is reasonable.  I quickly ran the comparable properties on the MLS.  These are all of the sold properties within 20% of the square footage and within .5 miles.


The value of the underlying asset is extremely important in evaluating these type of deals.   In a worst case scenario, you really need to make sure you make out better than if the borrower just made his payments to make up for the headache involved.

How much does the note cost?

We are selling the note at 80% of the current principle balance ($45,000).   Which equals = $36,000.  For this price, you would receive 391.64 every month for the next 30 years or the full balance if the borrower decides to pay off the balance.  If the borrower decided to pay the entire loan amount off, you would receive a lump sum and be very happy (because you make an extra 20% right off the top).

In summary, the high interest rate and the strong underlying asset make this an attractive deal.  It’s hard to envision a scenario where the investor doesn’t do very well.  Essentially the investor is protected on all foreseeable avenues. This type of investment would be ideal for a self-directed IRA, where you could just check in in 30 years and see a big lump of cash.

Here is the ticker tape and some more information as well.

If you have any other questions about these types of deals or are interested in buying this note, please email me at  Thanks for reading.

Rental Snapshot

23 May

New Blogging Strategy:  I’m not a great writer and it takes me a lot of time to write anything readable.  I’m going to keep my blogs shorter, but hopefully I will blog more regularly.

Residential Rental Investment Portfolio

Right now here is what I have:

23103 Avon – Rented $1100/month

Bought value = $50,000 Zillow value = $81,507

23430 Allor – Rented – $850/month

Bought value = $38,000 Zillow Value = 47,294

29810 Greater Mack – Rented $1000/month

Bought Value = $60,000 Zillow Value = $81,700

22624 Mylls – Rented $1050/month

Bought Value = $62,000 Zillow Value = $69,211

A lot of people say Zillow zucks.  But not me.  I love, love, love Zillow.  It’s just the best quick snapshot of what a property is worth.  As you can see, my properties values are up significantly in 1-2 years.

Real estate is super predictable.  Predicting price movement and which neighborhoods will do better than others is rocket science.  It’s not like a stock market where (theoretically) all public information is priced in.  Barring a black swan, real estate will continue to go up.

As a tangent, the actual city of Detroit  (I invest outside of the city) is an interesting speculative play.  I’ve heard a few compelling arguments recently for a super quick comeback.

Dan Gilbert, eccentric owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans, has pumped a ton of money into Detroit – a project he calls Detroit 2.0; a vision for a revitalized tech-oriented Detroit.  He’s buying up skyscrapers by the handful.

He wrote one thing about a city reconstruction that I found interesting.  You have to bring the stores and the people at once.  People won’t come without stores, and stores won’t come without the people.  You HAVE to bring them together.  It’s something I never thought about before and he’s right.  The thing is though, it’s all moot if you can’t bring the jobs.   I don’t think you can force-feed it 100%,  you need some job growth.  Anyway, it gives me hope that a super smart billionaire is trying really hard to save Detroit.  I’m still on the fence.  At times, the work seems insurmountable.



I also have my 3 land contracts, but they passed some new laws, the SAFE ACT and Dodd-Frank and nobody – not even lawyers – can interpret how many a non-licensed person can legally write.  So for me, there will be no more seller financing.  No big deal though, with the market ready to go nuts, rentals are a slightly better bet than land contracts.

I use a management company now because with the Non-Performing Notes business I don’t have a lot of time.  They take 10% plus the first month rent, but they deal with all the headaches.  They found me ridiculously quality tenants, so I’m happy with them so far.

20901 Hawthorne finally sold for $45,000 to a Chinese investor.  I made a couple bucks on that house, but nothing crazy.  It was originally supposed to be a rental, but I needed to liquidate some cash.  It’s a good lesson, that if you buy right, you can make anything work.

For my lakehouse, 4665 Green, I am having two open houses this weekend.  I’m pulling out all the stops to sell it.  If I don’t sell it, I might have to reduce the price.  That would be sad.

That’s pretty much the snapshot.  Hopefully by the end of 2013, I will have 2-3 more rentals.

Lastly, I’m no economist but I think at some point in the next 10 years, the U.S. dollar will have some pretty steep inflation.   With interest rates at all-time lows, I suggest that you get some 30-year fixed rates, since its a great hedge against inflation.  If you are thinking about buying a house, this is your nudge.   Pull the trigger.  Also, don’t pay anything down on your mortgage.  Thanks for reading.

The Plan

9 Apr

I have been in Michigan for about 1.5 years and it’s been almost 2 years since Black Friday ended my poker career.  Whenever I look back at a block of time, depending on my perspective, it can seem both really slow and really fast.  When I look back at my time in Michigan, fast or slow doesn’t even seem like an appropriate question.  It’s more like “WTF?”

If you would have shown me a snapshot of a random day now, back in March 2011, the only possible explanation would have been that I lost it all playing HossTBF in an epic tilted bender; and I was rebuilding working for as a temp.

The snapshot would have shown me in a city I’ve never been to, in a nondescript office, with three random people I’ve never met, and hieroglyphic-like notes scribbled on a whiteboard.  Honestly, I would have told the Ghost of Christmas Future that he had the wrong guy.

Our company, New Hope Financial buys bad debt in bulk packages and figures out ways to unravel the asset from the note (mortgage).  Our company is literally a bank.  We modify loans, foreclose, short sell, deal with bankruptcies, and do other bank things.

I think we are on the “next big thing” in American real estate.  The horizon is very bright for these type of assets.  Along with that, we have two huge competitive advantages: we are very, very good at working the notes (which is not easy to learn), and we have a connection that accesses us to MANY notes at an extremely cheap price.  That’s a pretty good combination.

In the last 9 months, we started with a package of 27 notes (our own money).  Then raised money from investors twice (through the blog) for packages of 55, and 217 respectively.

Some people might say we are escalating really/unnecessarily fast, but the game doesn’t get any harder as the stakes escalate, the numbers are just bigger.  In fact the game actually gets easier – handling a Miami mansion is a lot easier than handling a Detroit crackhouse.

Another reason that we are moving so fast is that by nature there are only so many bad debt assets out there.  Eventually as the economy improves and the housing crisis unravels there won’t be piles and piles of bad notes.  Our rough estimate is that we have 2-3 years to capitalize before the bubble is gone.  Time truly is money.

The Plan

We want to finish “working” the 27 and 55 lists where each asset is individually solved and sold.  We want to create performas proving that what we are doing not only works, but crushes.

Then, we want to sell the 217 note list.  We want to pay back all investors with interest as promised.

Then…….we want to raise a huge amount of $$$$$.  The same game, the same strategies – just Isildur-style.  6 games and a lot of zeros.  We have physically seen lists ready to be vetted and bought that are nosebleeds stakes with nosebleed profits.  Our team is young, hardworking and very good at what we do.  I fully expect to own those lists soon.  I will keep the blog readers updated on how things are moving as it pertains to this plan and when the door opens for funding.

Lastly, I want to end the blog on anyone that is thinking about switching careers or changing your life drastically.  At first seems impossible to start.  There will be days where you don’t know what to do or how to  begin toward your goal.  Just remember, slow motion is better than no motion.  If you just keep moving, you’ll find paths you couldn’t have foreseen.  You just have to keep moving – forward, backwards, sideways –  anything but stagnation.  If you were going to walk through a forest with no idea where you were going, you’d be better off walking than standing still.

Real Estate

2 Mar

In the last six months, the bad debt side of real estate has taken up far more of my time than the more traditional forms of real estate – rentals, land contracts, flips etc.  The regular stuff is still amazing, but due to some luck in finding the right people, the bad debt side is particularly profitable right now.

Here is a recap of what has been going on:

I had my tenant move out of 23103 Avon.  She was a webcam girl who made $85,000 worth of “tokens” on whatever porn site she was affiliated in 2011.  I figured it was an even trade, a stable income for a stable mind.  She ended up moving out because she landed in the crazyhouse – surprise, surprise.  She paid for 12 months  and moved our right away, so it worked well.  Perhaps, a more prudent landlord would have passed on a porn star, but I enjoy the stories and there were quit a few of those.  I had another tenant move out of 23430 Allor, and he stiffed me for about $2000 total.  He was an old man getting all his money from social security, and the IRS started garnishing his wages, leaving me high and dry.  He was on the borderline of income/rent ratio, I probably should have passed on him as a tenant.  In the end, even getting stiffed $2000, I still cleared a 10% ROI easily.  All the other rentals and land contracts are going really well.  The land contracts especially have been care-free and bringing huge returns.  As far as appreciation, I would say my properties across the board are worth on average 25% more than I paid for them.   The Detroit market is steadily climbing and wouldn’t be surprised to see that number hit 100% in 5 years.  As I’ve said before, while land contracts have a higher return and are very little work, they will eventually result in a pile of money after a few years.  I want to be in this business for a long time, so I am trying for a 50/50 split of rentals vs land contracts.  Also, if the Detroit market goes nuts, I will miss out with land contracts, but not with rentals.

I have one property at 20901 Hawthorne that was pretty much butchered and should be a cautionary tale on what not to do.  I was planning on renting it, but then I decided I wanted to stay more liquid for personal reasons and just threw it up on the market.  The place wasn’t particularly clean, it wasn’t finished remodeled, and it shouldn’t have been listed.  There is a saying in real estate that, “you only get one shot at being just listed.” I blew my shot and now its been listed for 120 days and selling is much tougher now that I am sure I want to sell.  I will end up making a few thousand when I do sell, but it won’t be a great return or worth the hassle.  Overall my handling of that property was sloppy, lazy real estate.  I normally preach being extremely conscious of the details when listing a house.  The property should be immaculate, staging and curb appeal being absolutely crucial.  Taking care of the cosmetics and aesthetics is very cheap and pays off many times over.  So do as I say, not as  I do.  The property was intended as a rental originally and the goal posts moved so I’m not that hard on myself about it.

As for long term goals, I definitely plan to buy more rentals.  If our lake house sells, it will probably be sooner than later.  I will be getting a full-time property manager soon, so I don’t have to spend anytime dealing with them.  Also, I have a few low-ball offers into the banks for short sales that would be very good flips.  Only time will tell if any of those offers stick.


22 Feb

“All people dream, but not equally.
Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their mind, wake in the
morning to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous
people, For they dream their dreams with open eyes, And make them come
D.H. Lawrence

My grade school English teachers always suggested I start with a quote.  That’s my “attention getter.”

I’ve always been attracted to ambition.  I love hearing stories about people that really want something and try relentlessly to achieve it.  It makes sense to me.  You want it, you try to get it.  On the other hand when people say they “want” something but put in none of the effort required to achieve it, I find it a little off-putting.  It’s like a disconnect.  How can you want something and not try to achieve it?  A dream without a plan is a wish!  That’s what I tell ’em!  Just kidding, I don’t say it.  I just think it.

I am not hating on type B personalities, I understand that one is not better than the other, the brain is wired in different ways.  But being a serious type A myself, I relate better to other type A’s.  So sue me.

The most extreme version of ambition is 100% ambition, single-mindedness. To me, this is a very romantic notion.  I see it more as ultimately freeing rather than a gigantic ball and chain.  Think of waking up every day and not ever being like, “What am I going to do today?” Because it’s the same as yesterday and the same as the day before.  One goal: build a Fortune 500 company, own a sports team, win an Olympic gold medal, become the best poker player.  Each day you work toward accomplishing X.  Nothing else matters.  Every day, it’s all about X.

In my life when I have an X, I am happy.  The stronger the desire for X, the happier I am.  I am at my most miserable when I have no X.  I know it’s the way my brain is wired.  It’s not something learned.  It’s funny, I think I see signs of it in my son.  I can’t be sure, but he definitely has the spinoff traits – hatred of boredom and mental complacency.  I hope he is like me.  His mom is a Type A (although much more reasonable than me) so that gives me hope at least that he’s not the dreaded type B.  I digress.

I don’t think true single-mindedness exists in the real world.  It’s more of a hypothetical idea, but I’ve met some people that I would consider pretty close.   Haralabos Voulgaris is one: Bob’s passion for the NBA and to become a great sports bettor is pretty epic.  It helps when your passion is also your job.  And by helps, I mean it’s a must.

I read a book the other day that resonated with me more than any book has in a long time.  It’s written by Hank Haney called, “The Big Miss,” and it chronicles his time as Tiger Woods’ golf coach.  Tiger Woods is one of the best examples of true single-mindedness.

****Tons of spoilers ahead.  Stop reading and go read the book.

The top of the mountain.  The golf swing perfected.

A lot of people have heard of “Tiger Days,” a termed coined to describe his rigorous daily practice routines.

“He would begin a typical one by waking at six a.m. and working out until eight.  After he showered and ate breakfast, we would meet on the practice tee at nine for 90 minutes of hitting balls.  Form 10:30 to 11 he would practice putt, then play as many as nine holes on the course until noon. After a one-hour lunch break, we’d meet at one p.m. for an hour of short-game work, followed by another 90 minutes of hitting balls.  From 3:30 to 4:45 he’d play nine holes, and then return to the putting green until six p.m. This would be followed by an hours of shoulder exercises before retiring for dinner at seven.  If he had a week off from tournament play, he’d start over the next day.”

Yeah, we know Tiger works hard at golf.  He plays a lot.  That’s intense, but now we’re talking……

“Tiger called me back the next morning, a few hours before his starting time.  He said he’d worked two hours in front of the mirror before going to bed.  Then, when he awoke at two a.m. to go to the bathroom, he looked in the mirror and started working on his swing again.  He said he spent another 90 minutes working on the same stuff before going back to bed.  Then after rising in the morning, he did another hour of mirror work, at total of four and half hours of studying position and movement since I’d passed along my suggestions.  In the final round, Tiger went out and shot 29 on the front nine and passed Vijay. He ended up shooting 63 to win by three.”

I often feel guilty that I don’t work harder at things – and I sometimes feel that maybe I should be more like Tiger.  But I take solace from this quote in the book which I would call the crescendo:

“I also genuinely cared about Tiger as a person and knew his life wasn’t easy. I sensed that despite the assumption that he’d followed his dream, he hadn’t chosen his life as much as it had chosen him.  Giving himself over to golf instead of a more normal life had many advantages, but being a well-adjust, fulfilled person wasn’t one of them.  I admired tremendously the way he held up his end of the bargain to produce excellence.  But I’d seen close-up the cost of so much single-mindedness, and I wondered —  As much as Tiger has gained in wealth and glory, is it possible that he feels used?”

That’s the rub.  Such an unbalanced life, doesn’t seem to be necessarily happy.  One might argue that the joy is in the chase.  I’ve always felt that was just something that people say.  There is joy in the journey, but I don’t think it feels like joy in the moment.  I bet Jordan, before his titles wasn’t happy, I bet he was constantly wanting, uncomfortable.

Psychologists have studied happiness and they’ve found that most people converge on a certain level of happiness despite their life situation.  It’s a bio-defense mechanism.  An example would be quadriplegics and lottery winners rating similarly happy after a few years – the same baseline for most people.  The people that are the most unhappy were those that felt they were just below a certain threshold they wanted to get to.  Trying to “keep up with the Jones'” if you will. (Here is a link to my source. Because of this, I imagine the true overachiever finding the journey angstful and only joyous in the memories well after the fact.

The real problem, though, is when you actually get to the summit.  You get there and look around and I bet it’s a lonely place.  A little bit of a “what now?” feeling, but more pronounced.  It’s weird but I think its something like this.  I love to fish.  Sometimes I’ll even go fishing by myself.  Like a true A personality, I work feverishly with my minimal skills to catch as many as possible.  I work non-stop, fish as many lines and legally allowed, constantly baiting and checking lines.  Then,  about once a summer, I’ll just stop and think, what if I catch a huge fish or a 100?  So what?  Who cares? I’m gonna throw the fish back anyway.  Sure, I’ll go brag to my friends, but that will be it. What’s the point?  It’s weird and it sucks.  I imagine that is how Tiger felt times 1000.  “I’m the best golfer in the world.” “So what?” “Did I just waste my life?”

Here is a recent Michael Jordan article where he refers to his mindset as a “curse.”

I genuinely felt sad for Tiger after reading the book.  Super overachievers give us the joy of seeing the full human potential realized.  People should thank them for that.

I want to share one more passage from the book – even thought it’s off topic.

Clutchness.  I’ve always had a million questions.  Here it is and thanks for reading:

“There will always be a mystery as to what makes Tiger Woods so amazing under pressure.  I still don’t exactly know, and I wonder if he does.  But what was revealed in his thought process before that putt was not a hard “this ball can only go in” mind-set, but rather a healthy, almost Zen, fatalism.  Some of it might have had to do with the Torrey Pines greens, which are notoriously bumpy, especially late in the day in the final round of a tournament.  But I found it amazing that for a person who was so bent on having control, Tiger instinctively knew when he had a better chance of success by surrendering.”