My 22 duplex lot deal - $1MM in debt - purchased with no money down.

137 Replies

***WHY I AM DOCUMENTING THIS ***

Before you read this post I want to explain why I am documenting this deal. 

I am where I am today because of the selflessness of a few people that had taken time out of their lives to help teach me a lot about real estate, business and life. And they did not expect to gain anything for themselves in return.

in 2009 the economic crash hit my home building company hard. I stopped building and had to liquidate 3 spec homes and 20 acres of land I was about to develop. I found whatever work I could to survive. I got a job delivering RV's across the country, and I was literally sleeping in my truck, driving 12,000 miles a month to survive financially. 

Finally my wife and I started to buy and rehab properties, turning them into rentals. And thru the help of the people I mentioned above I slowly got my life back, and now I am back doing what I love.

My goal is to do this for others. Everyday I wake up, I bounce out of bed and run to a job I love. If I never gain another dollar, but get to keep my career that I love so much I will live a blessed life. If this post helps 1 person reach a dream of their own I will have succeeded in paying it forward.

In June 2014 I just purchased all of the remaining vacant lots (22) inside of a completed duplex subdivision. By completed I mean roads, and infrastructure are all installed and taken over by the city.

2 different companies have gone belly up to the bank since 2006 trying to complete this project. I blame most of the failure on the economic crash, and the rest on mismanagement.

Having built around 100 new construction homes in 20ish mile radius of this location in the past 15 years I knew the area well. Most of my due diligence was spent on getting a grip on the construction prices ( I stopped building new construction in 2010) . Researching sales comps, and looking hard at my competition.

After that I spent hours upon hours creating spreadsheets, construction budgets, and a cash flow analysis of a best and worst case sales scenario. Then I started talking to some of my mentors/peers who's opinion I trust. 

The negotiation with the bank was quite interesting and if interested I will post info on that when I have more time. But here is the result of the negotiations and the final deal I signed.

Amount owed to bank $690k  

Price I paid $468.7k

Terms - Prime floating - currently 3.25%, 2 year deal with 2-1 year renewals of the same

The loan is I/O and debt reduction is straight-line taken down at the commencement of a construction loan.

The bank is to finance 1 spec home at a time during the duration of the loan. Terms of construction loan are prime +1 I/O. Construction loan value to be 100% (yes i said 100% ) of cost, or 80% of value, which ever is less. The CL will be in the $300k range.

I have secured another CL thru my main bank for the 80% of cost, interest only at 5%.

And for all of this I put $0 money down.

$468.7k for the land

$300k for Construction loan A

$300K for Construction loan B

$1,068.7k in loans all secured by my signature, my wifes signature, and tons of loan docs.

From here forward I am going to try to document this project as much as I can while working 70 hours a week. Ask as much as you want and I will do my best to answer.

I will try to get some pictures up soon of the 2 building I have going up right now. 

sweet! That's all that needs to be said about this deal

You are my hero!  Can't wait to see how this pans out. I just landed a 5-6 unit subdivision, with a 1.5 yr option. The owners will stay and live for the duration of the submittal process. Better than a rent back. That was as close as I could get to a zero down multi unit build. 

Could you detail the process of acquiring your lending? I'm all ears. 

Matt

@Chris Adams

Please explain if you will, just how you were able to put a whopping "$0.00" down on this type of investment property. 

Kudos,

Mary

Thanks for posting the details of this. I'm in a similar position with a piece of land I purchased at auction in early 2013. It's 25 remaining duplex lots in an established subdivision which went under in 2007.

They're fairly high end for this area, 3br 2ba 1500 sq feet per side on a single level, 4 sided brick. I think the target market is like you describe, retiring baby-boomers looking to downsize but that still want a nice place

I'm not a builder and have no ground-up construction experience unless you count a few extreme rehabs.

So I have been trying to sell the lots off individually.  I had some interest in early summer but none of them turned into closings so I've been playing around with the idea of building one myself.

Couple of questions for you. How did you measure demand? The economy still seems pretty soft in my area so I'm worried about building it and getting stuck with it.

How do you estimate construction costs? The individual units were selling around $110k new in 2007. I don't see how that works because if I figure $80/foot construction cost they would cost $120k per side to build.

What is the premium for a new build versus existing older units in your area? I ask this because the last comp in this subdivision went for 80k so I'm wondering if I could still build one new and ask $110k for it.

@Matt Huneycutt  @Mary B.  

I have to explain how this started before I can explain how I purchased the property.

As I mentioned last night the subdivision had caused 2 builders to default to the bank, the same bank who I purchased it from. The current owner had not paid the bank any interest in close to 18 months. But he was paying the property taxes and sewer bills, which is one of the reasons they didn't foreclose on him.

My initial involvement in this project was as a GC for the previous owner. He wanted to fire the current project manager (who was a partnering the deal) and hire me to try and save the project. So my first meeting with the bank was with 2 of the 3 partners, the banker and myself.

At this meeting I laid out a very detailed plan to save the partners from foreclosure. This was a 5 page business plan that included sworn statements a cash flow analysis and some sales projections based on a very minimal 8 addresses per year. 

The banker in turn laid out 3 scenarios to the partners. The 3rd scenario being me coming in as an investor. I told him flat out NO, this would never happen. I explained the margins on this deal where horrible. I then explained to the banker, that my initial advice to the partners was to walk away and lick their wounds. In a best case scenario they would recoup about $200k of the $250k they had lost. And they would never be able to show a profit. They where just to far upside down, they had paid pre crash pricing for the development and now they are selling at post crash pricing.

I pointed at the main partner who is a 70+ yo man with high moral values. I said to the banker this man is here because he wants to live up to his deal with the bank. I am here to advise him, and to explain to you how I can save this deal. But under no circumstances will I invest money in this project. I make triple the return buying and rehabbing foreclosures right now. If things went gray the partners would make $8k per address. This was 5% profit margin!

We ended up having 3-4 meetings and numerous conference calls with the bank. In one meeting the banker said, Chris give me a price you would pay. I answered $450k, but I won't buy it.

The result of these meetings was the bank gave the partners a construction loan to finish a unfinished building that was started. The plan was to use this building as a Sales Model, we would list it on the MLS for exposure but we didn't want to sell it. I started finishing the construction on this building and we got a full price offer as soon as drywall was installed.

I called the main partner and told him if he accepted the offer he would be done. It will take 3 months to get another building up, and we would loose the entire summer selling season. But he didn't really have a choice. His back was against the wall, he was out of cash and the bank wasn't going to give him loans to get the volume where it needed to be.

He looked at me and said, Chris just buy the place. I can't do this any longer and I want to be done. So we sold the address, I made the partners $8,734.00 on the unit after my GC fee. 

Now the really hard part begins. I have to convince my wife that we need to take on $1MM in debt after surviving the economic crash with our credit scores in tact. This wasn't easy!

My next post will explain the bank negotiations in detail.

@Jeff Kehl  

One way to measure demand is to work with a realtor that can search MLS for sold duplexes in your area. I also looked at 2 large builders that had similar projects going. And they where selling at a rapid pace. I had something they didn't have, wooded lots and since my subdivision was small, ( Theirs was 100+ lots) it was a very quiet serene location.

My deal is located on the outside edge of the Chicago Market. The city I am in is up and coming and currently in the top 5 cities for new construction building permits in the Chicagoland area. 

I can tell you my construction cost is around $87/sf without lot for my base unit. I didn't estimate cost, I went out and got hard bids from all subs. The reason I am profitable where the other builders weren't is because my land cost is much less than theirs, and I sharpened up my construction cost about 6k per unit. They made $8k per unit, I am over $20k per unit.

The housing market is much different now than it was in 2006-7. We have to give people nice homes, on a budget. Price is everything, can you drop the full brick on these buildings or is it a covenant?. I offer a nice base unit with a great floor plan and allow them to upgrade. Don't over build, and stick to tight but reasonable allowances. 

The housing market is a touch and feel market. If you don't have product up to show them its going to be hard to sell. We are selling a dream of a new home, just like a dream of a new car. People need to walk and feel the homes flow. They as consumers will imagine themselves living in the home. They will start placing their furniture, then they talk themselves into buying.

Now imagine how much harder it is to sell a vacant lot. In 15 years I have sold 3x's as many spec homes as presolds. If you can get the numbers right, I believe you will do much better selling specs than vacant lots. IF YOUR AREA IS READY to start buying.

I dont understand your question when you say 

"What is the premium for a new build versus existing older units in your area?"

@Jeff Kehl  Oddly enough I may be driving to South Georgia in the near future.

@Chris Adams  Great to have this thread. Maybe you can upload the subdivision map, etc. and floor plan or ? I understand putting in those long days! 

Chris,

You provided some extremely valuable insight to the folks who needed it most.  That is inspiring. It goes to show that solving other people's problems brings great rewards. I hope to model my business with the same mind set. 

Let's hear how you sold this to your wife!

Matt

I think this is a great post. It really shows how knowledge, determination, skill & a little luck all came together in a great deal. 

I love the deal just because its no money down with the potential to make 440k (20k per door x 22 buildings x 2 units per duplex). But it definitely seems like a huge risk fraught with the possibility of losing your entire portfolio and credit - which would
make it very difficult to start everything back up again.

Is the 20k per unit your worst case scenario for profit? Can you make 30k a unit?

What are you projecting your absolute longest holding period to be for the entire thing? And if that gets pushed back, how significant a hit do you take? i.e. Instead of completing and selling 4 duplexes a year, you only do 2????

Lastly, what size/style units are these exactly? 3/2, 1,500 sq ft, 2 story? Ranch, etc?
And where in chicago suburbs are you exactly? Just curious as to whether or not your cost per square foot ($87) could be done cheaper a little further south of the city (i.e down by me)

I only ask because your story sounds a little similar to mine - although I wasn't in construction. My company went thru a bunch of layoffs during the bust though and I got very lucky to keep my job. That was the impetus though for me to really jump into real estate investing. Had very little money (a 40k HELOC) but was able to parlay that into 30 rental properties that, for the most part, are in decent areas with good schools and your typical 3/2, 1,500 sq ft homes worth about 130 to 140k that I'm all in at 65% LTV or so.

Strangely enough, though I also bought 2 duplex lots in a suburb far southwest of chicago (braidwood) at a pretty good price. Right now I'm just sitting on them since I talked the bank into escrowing 2 years of taxes and I got the taxes cut in half recently (I contested the taxes with the county and won) so they're actually paying taxes for 4 years.

Its a fascinating deal though to think that you are now the owner/developer of a 22 lot complex and that you got that project with NO MONEY DOWN!

I thought I was a good negotiator when I got the bank to take 15% down on the two lots. But no money down to buy the lots PLUS no money down for the new construction is just silly. :-)

And, believe me, when I say that I'm a bit of a risk taker too. But I don't think that I could take that leap on that deal.  I do hope you make out like a bandit on it though. It would easily be one of the best success stories that I've ever seen on BP or any other site. 

Good luck. Keep this thread and the posts going as best you can. And it would really be great to see the plans of the units and some construction pics just for kicks.

thanks

Thanks for posting the details of your deal! This is motivating and inspiring.

@Mike H.  I will answer you in detail when I get time, I'm out of town till friday night. But Im near 24k per address. I like my math better than yours 22 building * 2 Addresses = 44 * 23k = $1,012.000

re: Math.  Ooops. Yea. I like your math a LOT better. :-)

I accidentally cut your profits in half.  So now I'm seeing the risk.

Thats an amazing up side on a deal with no money down. Its downright silly.

Wife Negotiations

My wife and I met when we where 16 years old, and we have been together ever since. She has always been very supportive of me and my entrepreneurial spirit. But I have to admit gaining her support on this deal was a bit tougher than normal. She has always been involved in the day to day of all of our companies to some point, so she understands the numbers and the risk involved. 

The most important factor for me in any decision, is having my wife's support on a deal. Especially this deal. I'm a firm believe that if you can't convince your investor how good a deal is, then its probably not a good deal. 

At this point I showed her the sworn statements, then I showed her the cash flow analysis.( I may post this cash flow analysis ) This gave us an detailed outline for the next 18 months on company and personal cash flow based on worst case scenario sales. 

My wife has all of the confidence in the world in me, but her confidence in the economy is a different story. And at this exact moment in time, Russia was pointing their tanks directly at Ukraine. To be honest none knew what the results of that skirmish was going to cause.

After all of the conversations with my wife, I finally said this

" We have struggled ever since we liquidated our new construction inventory during the crash. Our plan when we did this was to keep all of our credit and sub contractor relationships in tact, so that when times got better we could re-enter the new construction market. Times are not great but they are much better. Neither of us are enjoy the life we are currently living, and its time to change that. I need to get back to doing what I love, life is just to short."

Her answer was simple. "Don't let us go broke"

Next up Bank Negotiations

What are your "Don't let us go broke" contingency plans?

Bank Negotiations

Of my many hobbies in life, studying the game poker is the one I have invested the most time in. If you play poker a few times a year for fun with your friends, you may not grasp my meaning. But for those that have dedicated hundreds of hours studying the game like I have, you understand how much the fundamentals of poker transfer into negotiating and REI. Well it was time to sit down with the bank and play poker.

My very first meeting with the bank to negotiate this purchase had to be done from a position of strength. I could not walk into that meeting and let him dictate the terms of this deal. Lets face it, I was a homebuilder that had been killed by the economy. My last 4 years of tax returns look like swiss cheese. And I simply do not have the ability to purchase this deal if I have to put and money down. Given all of that, if I start letting him call the shots I'm screwed!!

So how do we negotiate from a position of strength with a bank, when we do not have the ability to show him tax returns with any taxable incomes, or the ability to plunk down a huge equity investment? Well, we first have to understand what Mr. Banker has and what he needs vs what he wants. 

In the case of this subdivision, what Mr. Banker has is a subdivision that has gone in to default by two different owners, both of which he financed. And right now he has a $700k note that the current owners have not paid on in 18 months. He has a board of directors that are asking him why he has not foreclosed on the asset, yet continued to give them a construction loan even after they where in default.

If you want to know what effect this has on the bank, here is a good article that will save me a few thousand words of typing.

http://www.allbankingsolutions.com/Articles/NPA-im...

Now that we understand the bankers position we can begin to formulate our plan. Our plan is simple. Create a win win for both parties. Ok I will get specific.

Bank Meeting - Shock and Awe

What is the best way to negotiate from a position of strength that shows your opponent your serious, and at the same time catches them completely off guard putting them completely on defense all at the same time? Well I brought a commercial banker friend of mine to the first meeting completely unannounced. Im 100% certain by the look on Mr bankers face that his entire game plan for negotiating this deal just went out the window.

Mr Banker now has one of his peers in the room that is working for the buyer. This meeting has gone to a new level once my banker friend starts asking a lot of well directed bank/FDIC questions. I understood about 4% of the bankerese language that was going on. But the meeting definitely worked in my best interest.

I finally pull out my spreadsheets, handing them to Mr Banker and said " The numbers in these documents are what it will take to make this project profitable. I am not going to be the 3rd person to fail in this subdivision. Based on my budgets and sales forecast, the property you have is worth $468,700.00 to me. The only variable left is your ability to structure the financing in a way that will allow this project to finally succeed." 

Notice we don't ask for any terms, right now is time to keep quiet and listen.

Mr Banker looks up and says "I need this project out of my NPA and back in my performing assets class. You are the first person to sit in front of me who gives me the feeling we can finally see this project get completed. What kind of capital reduction can you do up front (down payment), and what do you need from the bank to succeed in this project"

The way I answer this question, right here right now is for all of the marbles.

If i say, I can't put up a down payment, I look weak. Even tough its the truth.

So my answer was

"As you can see by the cash flow statement, I have based this deal on financing the entire purchase price. I am allocating all of my cash reserves towards covering startup and carrying cost during the 1st 6 months of the project until cash flow from the sales starting coming in." (At this time I already have 1 contract for a pre sold on a property I don't own =) )

"On top of that, I need a commitment from your bank for a construction loan on 1 spec building based on 80% LTV for the life of this project."

Mr Banker didn't think all that long, looked at my banker friend and said " There is no point in financing the land without a construction loan so there is no problem with that. I'm thinking I can do prime for 2 years I/O with draw downs against the principle when we do Construction Loans. Construction loans will be at prime +1. Let me run this past my bosses and see how they feel.

BOOM ! I just put together a deal. The bank feels like they can finally move this dog of an asset, and Im going to be getting my life back.

My banker friend and I walk out to the car and he tells me " Dude I can't believe the deal he just offered you, he must be taking some serious heat from the bank to move this property."

So I also put a deal together with my friend where he will supply me another construction loan for a spec building. 

And thats how I managed to purchase 22 lots, and 2 construction loans with no money down.

Originally posted by @Jon Klaus :

What are your "Don't let us go broke" contingency plans?

 In the next post I mention how I already have 1 pre sold, from which I will make enough profit to cover 1 years cost of ownership. Yes 1 sale will cover my cost for 1 year. 

So worst case I only sell that 1. My rental properties cover 40% of my cost of living. So if need be I could keep doing the delivery job to make ends meet. 

In reality, I am now a subcontractor for myself. I do my own trim, and siding. This covers my personal cost of living. 

A few things I forgot to mention when negotiating with the bank. My wife and I have credit scores near 800. We had started accumulating rentals, which have good cash flow and good equity. I have 15 years experience as a new home builder. I was in good standing with all of my subcontractors and suppliers.

All of these items worked in our favor during when the bank looked at us under the microscope.

Originally posted by @Mike H. :

I love the deal just because its no money down with the potential to make 440k (20k per door x 22 buildings x 2 units per duplex). But it definitely seems like a huge risk fraught with the possibility of losing your entire portfolio and credit - which would
make it very difficult to start everything back up again.

Is the 20k per unit your worst case scenario for profit? Can you make 30k a unit?

What are you projecting your absolute longest holding period to be for the entire thing? And if that gets pushed back, how significant a hit do you take? i.e. Instead of completing and selling 4 duplexes a year, you only do 2????

Lastly, what size/style units are these exactly? 3/2, 1,500 sq ft, 2 story? Ranch, etc?
And where in chicago suburbs are you exactly? Just curious as to whether or not your cost per square foot ($87) could be done cheaper a little further south of the city (i.e down by me)

I only ask because your story sounds a little similar to mine - although I wasn't in construction. My company went thru a bunch of layoffs during the bust though and I got very lucky to keep my job. That was the impetus though for me to really jump into real estate investing. Had very little money (a 40k HELOC) but was able to parlay that into 30 rental properties that, for the most part, are in decent areas with good schools and your typical 3/2, 1,500 sq ft homes worth about 130 to 140k that I'm all in at 65% LTV or so.

Strangely enough, though I also bought 2 duplex lots in a suburb far southwest of chicago (braidwood) at a pretty good price. Right now I'm just sitting on them since I talked the bank into escrowing 2 years of taxes and I got the taxes cut in half recently (I contested the taxes with the county and won) so they're actually paying taxes for 4 years.

Its a fascinating deal though to think that you are now the owner/developer of a 22 lot complex and that you got that project with NO MONEY DOWN!

I thought I was a good negotiator when I got the bank to take 15% down on the two lots. But no money down to buy the lots PLUS no money down for the new construction is just silly. :-)

And, believe me, when I say that I'm a bit of a risk taker too. But I don't think that I could take that leap on that deal.  I do hope you make out like a bandit on it though. It would easily be one of the best success stories that I've ever seen on BP or any other site. 

Good luck. Keep this thread and the posts going as best you can. And it would really be great to see the plans of the units and some construction pics just for kicks.

thanks

 Mike, 

I put together 2 scenarios, best case i sell out in 3 years, worst case 6 years. At 6 years I still do very well as long as interest rates don't go crazy. My goal right now is 12 addresses a year.

We have 3  ranch plans right now, a 1500 sf 2/2, 1620sf 2/2 w sunrooms and 1700 3/2.

As for my cost/sf I am constantly trying to get my numbers down. Ozinga is going to have a $10/yard increase real soon tho. This equates to $1,500 per address on me. Managing cost is a constant struggle.

As to being a risk taker, yes I am taking a risk. But after we fixed your math I think we both see the rewards more than offset the risk. To be honest the risk doesn't bother me, or influence my decisions. $1MM in debt doesn't even cross my mind, its just a number on a spreadsheet. 

But there are also a lot of other numbers on that spreadsheet. I look at the monthly cost to own, vs the minimum amount of sales I have to have to break even. As long as that number is a manageable one I am not intimidated.

The great wall of China is 5,500 miles long, and it was built 1 brick at a time. Im just laying bricks.

Bravo Chris 

Bringing in another banker was a killer move. Is the tactic of financing one or two builds at a time commonplace for double digit subdivisions or was that completely abstract thinking?

Just so I understand, you build one house and sell it, you now have the funds to own the lots out right?  Then you take further loans as you build the remaining 20 (your friend has you covered on loan #2. Is that right?

Originally posted by @Matt Huneycutt :

Bravo Chris 

Bringing in another banker was a killer move. Is the tactic of financing one or two builds at a time commonplace for double digit subdivisions or was that completely abstract thinking?

Just so I understand, you build one house and sell it, you now have the funds to own the lots out right?  Then you take further loans as you build the remaining 20 (your friend has you covered on loan #2. Is that right?

 


 In order for me to meet my goals I need to have 2 buildings constructing at different stages all of the time. If one building is finished I want the other to be framed so that if I sell the first I can have new product up and ready as fast as possible. 

The profit from the sale of 1 address will cover my cost for 1 year. By cost I mean it will pay my interest expenses, property taxes and insurance. 

 It does not pay off all of the lots. The loan for the lots will be paid off as I get construction loans for either pre sold or spec buildings.

Originally posted by @Chris Adams :

Wife Negotiations

......

After all of the conversations with my wife, I finally said this

" We have struggled ever since we liquidated our new construction inventory during the crash. Our plan when we did this was to keep all of our credit and sub contractor relationships in tact, so that when times got better we could re-enter the new construction market. Times are not great but they are much better. Neither of us are enjoy the life we are currently living, and its time to change that. I need to get back to doing what I love, life is just to short."

 Let me just say that I am very impressed with, and admire you for this. I would never fault anyone that chose to walk away, since both parties in a business transaction understand there is risk and that the possibility of default is an option. However I myself would, like you, take the self sacrifice to make good on my obligation. And obviously this has in the end proved to serve you well for this very deal right now. 

I just wanted to give you a "pat on the back" for that, though I know you don't need it from anyone else but yourself; and the Mrs. of course.

Progress Update

So now that I have explained how this deal came to be I will fast forward and start posting updates on the project. 

I closed the deal with the bank on June 1 and began pulling permits for the 1st building immediately. The first permit took forever, or so it seemed. Remember the no money down part? Thats over, start up cost take over and it seems like money is spewing like a broken dam.

To get construction of the 1st building started I had to start up my all of my insurance that had been on hold since I hadn't been doing construction for a while. Here are the out of pocket cost.

General Liability Ins   $2,900

Workman's Comp      $2,400

County License     $150

City License          $150

Civil Engineering    $250

Builders Risk          $2,500

Building permit     $12,000

Ugh, I don't even have a hole in the ground and I've spent $20K !!!

But I knew this was coming, and this is the reason we needed to keep our cash reserves on hand instead of coughing up a big down payment for the land deal.

I had already signed a contract for a pre sold on 1 side of this building. In new construction the earnest money on a pre sold contract typically goes to the builder. In this case the earnest money was $10k down at the contract signing and another $10k when the foundation is poured. This healthy earnest money was very helpful with start up cost.

I had also taken on an investor in this deal, here are those details. 

The investor put up $25k and in return he will get back $1,250.00 every time a property closes as return on his investment, then at the end of this project he will get back his original $25k. At the end of the project he will receive $55k back in interest on his $25k investment.

Yes its a very sweet deal for him. And I can already hear many of you gasping. Yes I could have gotten a hard money loan for much less than this cost. So let me explain.

Originally I was hired by one of the partners to save him, his investment and his subdivision from eminent doom. This person had something close to $225k or so invested in the project. In all reality it was his life savings, and he was now 73 years old and nearly broke. It became clear there was zero chance he would ever recoup his losses, and bankruptcy/foreclosure was inevitable.

I felt that offering him an investment opportunity that would give him a chance to recoup some of his losses was the right thing to do. If things go as planned he will recoup around 20% of his losses, and I get much needed startup capital.

My cost for his investment are tied to final closings of sales, this is when I get the bulk of the profits, so I don't have added pressure of a monthly interest expense. If we don't sell properties for a period of time, like winter months, I don't have to pay interest. In the end I will feel very good knowing I helped him recoup something, and his investment has helped me start this project off with a health amount of cash reserves.

Between the pre sold deposit, investment funds, and my own cash investment (mostly from my rental company) This project is starting off in a  very good financial position .

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