Show Summary

Did you know that homeowners that lose their house to tax sales aren’t automatically given their equity back after their back taxes and fees are paid off? Bob Diamond joins us today to share how he’s turned helping others get some of their money back into a business. It’s a fascinating topic, and likely something that you’ve never even thought of before. Check out this episode of the Flip Show!

Highlights of this show

  • Meet Bob Diamond, real estate attorney, real estate investor, and expert on property tax sales.
  • Join the fascinating discussion on how there are often unclaimed funds available after a property tax sale, and how you can get involved.
  • Learn as Bob explains how unclaimed funds from property tax sales come about, and why many that lose their homes to tax sales don’t even know they have unclaimed funds available!

Resources and Links from this show:

Listen to the Audio Version of this Episode

FlipNerd Show Transcript:

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And now, let’s get started with today’s show.
Hey. It’s Mike Hambright from Welcome back for another exciting VIP interview. Where I interview successful real estate investing experts and entrepreneurs in our industry to help you learn and grow. Today, I’m joined by Bob Diamond. Bob is the managing attorney for the Diamond Law Center. He’s a real estate developer and author. He’s an active investor himself and Bob has made several appearances on popular media, FOX and CNBC. Now, he’s worked his way all the way up to joining us here on FlipNerd. So we’re excited to have him here. And Bob is involved in a number of things.
It’s funny for those who are listening. I always talk with guests beforehand about what we’re going to talk about and we could have taken this interview today probably 20 different directions. But what we’re going to talk about is a really interesting aspect of a tax sale that’s referred to as “overage funds” or there’s a different few names for it. But it’s essentially where you could make money helping people that have had their houses sold at a tax sale, get some of that equity back, if they had equity in it. It’s a fascinating topic that literally I never even thought of or heard of before just a few minutes ago. But we’re going to talk about that today and Bob’s going to share his expertise in that space.
Before we get started with today’s topic though, let’s take a moment to recognize our featured sponsors.
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Now, let’s start today’s show.
Mike: Hey, Bob. Welcome to the show.
Bob: Hey Mike. Great to be here.
Mike: Yeah. Glad to have you on. So it’s interesting how sometimes people don’t really ever think about, that are listening to the show, the kind of production side of this. But we kind of struggled to come up with the topic a little bit today because you’ve got so many different experiences that we could’ve really taken this thing 20 different ways probably. So thanks for being here.
Bob: Sure. I’m glad to be here. And, yeah, there are a lot of different things to talk about in real estate because it’s such as a fascinating topic and everything you learn, the more you learn, the more you can do and the more you can make.
Mike: Yeah. And what’s interesting is that with your . . . I’ll let you introduce yourself here in a second, but what I know, what we talked about beforehand is you were a real estate investor before you were an attorney. And there’s a ton of attorneys that I know, real estate attorneys that have found lots of . . . I’ll call it kind of creative, not creative in a bad way. But creative ways to make deals work or to find ways to money in real estate just because they understand the law and how things work a lot more. And some of those things are really kind of a black box for the everyday mom and pop type investors.
Before we get started talking about this topic today, which is going to be fascinating, maybe give us your background, talk a little bit about yourself and let us learn about you.
Bob: Well, I’ll be quick because I’m boring compared to the topic. So I’m an attorney and I’m from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I’ve been an attorney since 1995 and as I said, Mike, I started investing, before that, I started investing in 1989. So I was an investor in ’89, an attorney in ’95 and I bought at tax sales. I bought at mortgage foreclosure auctions. I’ve done pre-foreclosures and that was kind of the beginning of my career. And then I graduated to doing apartment buildings and office buildings and restaurants. So if we look back today, now I own single family houses, apartment buildings, office buildings and a restaurant.
Mike: Yeah.
Bob: Well, it’s been a great career. I’ve enjoyed helping other investors get their businesses off the ground and really be successful. And that’s probably what just gives me the greatest joy and it’s great making money from the investments I have. But helping somebody else who’s willing to do work, that’s [inaudible 00:05:37] for me. It’s great.
Mike: Yeah. I know. I understand that completely. So talk a little about it. Because you’ve been an investor for a long time and you’ve invested in some things that a lot of real estate investors who would lead you to believe are fairly modern phenomena, like, foreclosures and pre-foreclosures and modifying loans and stuff like that. I know that you were doing that 20 plus years ago. So maybe kind of compare those things today versus way back then before anybody even knew what they were.
Bob: Well, that’s interesting. So early on in my career, I started just buying at the foreclosure auctions and back then it was really easy.
Mike: Yeah.
Bob: Like you could just go there, if you had money you could buy a couple of deals a month if you wanted to without much work. As time progressed, this list got bigger, but the competition got much bigger.
Mike: Right.
Bob: So these days, if you go to auction, you can still buy properties but you’re going to be competing with other men and women who are well-funded and sitting there buying. As a matter of fact, I read in the Wall Street Journal just today that BlackRock has accumulated 42,000 single family homes. BlackRock is a huge investor. Those kind of investors were never, never in the game when I was buying at auction.
Mike: Right.
Bob: That’s my primary buying source. What I’ve seen over time is that the sourcing has gotten a little harder. So people have to work very diligently to find deals. They’ve got to have a good marketing game and you really have to make the effort to find deals. Not enough just to have access to capital these days. Now, you’ve got to have a creative way to make money and . . .
Mike: Yeah. You could say for a long, long time or really forever, part of the opportunity for smart investors is taking advantage of an inefficient market and it’s obviously becoming more and more efficient as time goes by.
Bob: Yes.
Mike: Yeah.
Bob: That’s a really good way to put it. And the knowledge is now out there. But back when I started, you had to go to the port house to get the list or look in the newspaper and catch the list for the sheriff sale. Now, it’s as close as the internet, in the Google search.
Mike: Right.
Bob: And it’s still fun. You can take advantage of any market and there are always some inefficiencies, but you can’t do the same thing that you did 20 years ago and expect it to work today. That’s never going to happen.
Mike: Right. Right. Well, so over time you’ve . . . and kind of tell us about the general topic that we’re talking about today which is kind of reclaiming overages from tax sales that, when told me, some of the things that you told me which I want you to share to everybody here. It was fascinating that the money that pays off the taxes of whatever’s leftover isn’t just given back to the seller. The counties typically keep that and you have to go fight for it. So I’ve never even thought that was an issue, but it’s fascinating. Tell us more about it.
Bob: So let me just explain it. So very simply, properties are sold at tax sales if you don’t pay the taxes and you let them get like typically, three or four years behind. So if house taxes could get that far behind or commercial for that matter, it doesn’t matter which we’re talking about, the county will put the property up for sale and they’ll sell it to the highest bidder. And then they’re public auctions. And typically, the property is going to be three to four years behind taxes and let’s just take a prototypical $100,000 house.
Mike: Okay.
Bob: $100,000 house is probably going to have somewhere in the neighborhood of $3000 a year in taxes. If you let those get four years behind, which is kind of worst case scenario, you’re going to owe $12,000 in taxes plus interest and penalties. Give it another 50% for that, so you’re going to have $18,000 owed in order to save the house from the tax sale. This is a $100,000 house. When it goes to tax auction, which some of them will. It’s going to sell for typically 70 to 80% of retail value. That’s going to sell from $70,000 to $80,000. And that’s connected with my saying that it’s become much more competitive at the auctions.
Mike: Right.
Bob: So a man or a woman there is going to pay, let’s take on the low side, they’re going to pay $70,000. And they would’ve gotten a deal. Right?
Mike: Sure.
Bob: You buy $100,000 house for 70 grand, you’re thrilled. But what you have to look at is look at the deferential. You have $18,000 in taxes that was owed here, it sold for $100,000, I’m sorry it’s sold for $70,000, which means in between the 18,000 and the 70,000 there’s $52,000 that the county collected over and above the taxes that were due.
Mike: Right. Right.
Bob: And that money belongs to and should go to the former owner, for obvious reasons. I mean, if I get my house sold out from under me and those extra money left over, I need the money. I got to go find a new apartment or a new house, a new living situation and the government should get their taxes, but they shouldn’t get more than their taxes. They should just get their taxes and expenses and that’s that.
Mike: Right.
Bob: So you would think that the county would make an effort to track people down and get them the money back, but they don’t. Instead, they just do nothing and they sit there with the file in a court house. Sitting there waiting for someone to ask for the money. Now, if they don’t ask for the money, after typically three years, that money is forfeited to the government and the government keeps it. So there’s kind of a distance standard for the government to actually find anybody.
Mike: Right. And why make it any more convenient for you then to have to, to tell you that they owe you money.
Bob: Yeah. They don’t make it easy. They just wait for you come ask for it. Now, if you ask, you do get, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get. And they don’t put these things on the internet, most of them. About 80% are not on the internet. Meaning that they purposely keep them kind of, like, hidden under the carpet.
Mike: Yeah.
Bob: Because think about that the government collects a lot of money. Just to give you an idea of how much money we’re talking about. Little teeny tiny state of Delaware, which is one of the smallest states in the country. Last year they collected $475 million in unclaimed funds.
Mike: Wow.
Bob: Stuck it at their general fund and just do whatever they want with that.
Mike: Yeah. That is incredible.
Bob: And that’s real money. And obviously at bigger states you get bigger monies.
Mike: Yeah.
Bob: So what we do is we get a lists of those monies that are being held. We track down the former owners and we contact and say, “Hey. We found this money that’s owed to you. If you like us to go get it for you, we’ll get it for you for a percentage of what you recover.” So typically, 30, 40% of what’s recovered, we take as our fee.
Mike: Okay. And talk a little bit about how common of an issue that is, so, let’s say if 100 houses sell the auction, how many of those . . . because it’s probably fairly typical for those houses to be behind on mortgage payments as well. And they may fairly commonly be upside down or they have other liens against the property as well. Like what percentage? Is that true?
Bob: Well, yes and no. The mortgage companies get wiped out by tax sales, so usually they’ll pay the taxes rather than let the property get lost.
Mike: Okay.
Bob: But here’s this stat I do know. If we look at a county with a population about 100,000 people, we’ll typically see a million and a half dollars sitting there waiting to be claimed.
Mike: Okay. Wow.
Bob: That’s sort of net of everything. So that’s a lot. The monies we work on, are ones that have been sitting now for six months or longer.
Mike: Okay.
Bob: So I know that if money has been sitting for six months, typically, mortgage companies have already come through and gotten their money. The owners don’t know about it because let’s face it. If I had even $10,000 sitting at the court house waiting for me, and I’d lost my house to tax sale, I would be at the court house immediately,
Mike: Right. Right.
Bob: Like I’d be camped overnight waiting for them to open so I could get my check. So we work on ones that are six months older, older, older. Because again, mortgage companies have already come through, gotten anything that they’re owed and the owners don’t know about it. So I know that that money is going to be forfeited if we don’t do something about it.
Mike: Sure. Sure.
Bob: But [inaudible 00:13:20] actually.
Mike: Yeah.
Bob: I started out early in my career buying at auction, then I tried to shift to pre-foreclosures and I couldn’t do it.
Mike: Yeah.
Bob: And the reason I couldn’t is I would sit there across the table from Mrs. Jones, who your husband had died. She lost her leg to cancer. Her dog ran away and now she’s losing her house. And I would say “Well, Mrs. Jones, I could give you $60,000 for your $90,000 house.” Because that’s just the economics of fix and flip investing.
Mike: Yeah.
Bob: You buy it at 65 cents to the dollar.
Mike: Right.
Bob: If you don’t, then you’ll go broke. So I would be forced to tell this little lady, this is what my offering is, 60 grand, 65 grand for your $90,000 house. And I just didn’t have the heart for it. I really wanted to help these little old ladies and people. And now, this business is really interesting, because it lets me help them.
Mike: You come in as the hero from somebody else that’s the big bad county or city that has sold their house out from under them.
Bob: Yeah. So I think that’s really cool.
Mike: Yeah.
Bob: That’s a fun place to for me to be in in my life.
Mike: Yeah.
Bob: And we’re teaching people how to do this. What we do is we teach other investors how to do it. And the way it fits in my investing business and everybody’s their own business, but the way it fits in mine, I use that money for down payments and repair costs, closing costs and things like that for my portfolio of rental properties.
Mike: Okay. Yeah. What I thought was interesting, you said something, this was before we started recording, was that it’s a great vehicle, potentially, even for people that buy houses at a tax sale is if you buy a house and you know that there is an overage that that person should get back and if they don’t claim that you can effectively, one, go help them get part of their money back, the person whose house you bought. And two, make money in the process, which effectively lowers your purchase price of that house. Right?
Bob: Exactly, so I actually learned this. It’s a really funny story. I was going to auction and there’s this guy named Newman. He used to drive me crazy. He’d always bid on everything I wanted to bid on. So after I got over my murderous rage, I’d say “I wish this guy would just go away.” I realized that using this process of getting overages when he paid more than I wanted to pay, I can go and get part of that money by working with the former owner on the overage.
Mike: Yeah.
Bob: So I would sit there and be like “Oh. You got me again, Newman. . . .
Mike: Yeah.
Bob: Good job. And he could bid as high as he wanted. I was like “Bid it up higher.” I was going to get part of the overage money.
Mike: Right. Right.
Bob: I don’t think he ever figured out why I was always so happy when he bid against me and won.
Mike: Yeah.
Bob: I was almost happier, because when I got the property, I’d deal with the fix and flip issues. When he got it, I would just go get free money from the owner, so . . .
Mike: Yeah. Talk about, I know you teach other people how to do this, and at the end of the show here, we’ll get some information on how people can learn more about that. But maybe just talk about how complicated of a process that is to go claim that for a seller. Especially since you’re doing it on behalf of somebody else, like, I can imagine there’s an administrative process that’s dealing with the city government or county government or any sort of government is really never easy.
Bob: Yeah. I wouldn’t call it . . . It is definitely a category of not easy, but not overly complex. It just takes a little bit of persistence.
Mike: Okay.
Bob: Probably the best way to put it.
Mike: Okay.
Bob: You go there and they’re like “Oh, we need this other form or this other piece of information,” and you have your back and forths. But, typically, it takes three to four hours to actually make the claim, meaning fill in the paperwork, send it in, have them ask you for one or two pieces of additional papers. Send those in.
Mike: Okay.
Bob: And then sort of follow up with them weekly.
Mike: Okay.
Bob: So a process is pretty simple. We call, ask them, “What’s your process for claiming the money?” And sometimes they have a form. Sometimes they just want a letter from you. And so we fill in the form or we give them a letter. And then they’ll come back with any extra information they want. And typically, they want something that connects the person to the property. They may say, “We want a picture of a photo ID with the person’s name on it and something attached to the property like an old utility bill an old insurance policy, an old settlement statement, an old tax return that they filed from that address.”
Mike: Okay.
Bob: Where it contains reference to that address. If you’re talking about an investor, it’s going to be the rental schedule, of schedule E if it’s going to show the rental properties. It might be that, or maybe that they filed from that address so we get the first page of their tax return.
Mike: Sure. Sure. Do you have any feel for, in terms of the typical kind of opportunity to help somebody or where it’s . . . something happened to the actual owner, like, they died or were not coherent or whatever to where, this occurs because the family didn’t know it was going on necessarily. And the person that owned the home maybe just wasn’t with it to where they really understood what was going on. Like how often, it seems to me like it would be a fairly large percentage of the time where it’s more of a family or an estate issue than it is necessarily the person that lived in the house themselves.
Bob: A very, very good insight and so part of what we deal with, I would say, two primary like non-individuals. One is an estate and now there we’re going to work with whoever the heir is to the estate are. Typically that’s the family. It’s a brother, a sister, son or daughter, occasionally a parent, but not usually. It’s usually just the heirs.
And they often don’t know and they can be really easy to work with because they know that they don’t know. Like they know when we approach them saying, “Hey. We knew you’re related to Sam Snead that passed away and we found some money that’s owed to Sam, so who is handling the estate? We’ll get you that money.” And they know that they don’t know everything that Sam was up to.
Mike: Right.
Bob: It’s very possible they’re still finding out since two years later. So that’s one way that we deal with that. And the other thing we’ll run into is LLCs and companies. Sometimes the company goes out of business or they have a business downturn or they were doing a development project that crashed during the recession, 2008, ’09, ’10.
Mike: Okay.
Bob: And remember that the tax is going to get three or four years behind before they’re going to offer them for tax sale. So those ones were actually maturing now. Like we’re seeing a big uptick in tax sales because there are projects where someone did a subdivision, put in some streets and then lost the project. And there can be a lot of money that’s left over, so we teach people how to figure out who owns it, which is easy, that’s on the list. But then how to figure out who to talk to, who are the principles that own that company or entity and then we approach them say, “Hey. You know this company is owed X number of dollars. Would you like us to go get it?”
Mike: Yeah.
Bob: And they’re usually pretty happy. Because if their development project crashed, they have lost some money.
Mike: Sure.
Bob: And to get part of that back, they’re just jumping for joy.
Mike: Sure. Sure. Yeah. That’s fascinating. So of the people that you teach how to do this, do you find that they typically are a real estate investor and this is a new niche or is it like other attorneys that deal with a state issue or things like that, that this is also obviously a niche no matter how you slice it. But is this typically seen as a real estate investing niche or a way to monetize from whether you’re . . . of course, there is businesses that lend people money for back taxes, right? Like another kind of add-on for those types of folks.
Bob: I would say that the majority of our customers are real estate investors.
Mike: Okay.
Bob: But that’s also because that’s where our connections are.
Mike: Sure. Yeah.
Bob: Investing for decades and I think that’s more the cause of it. I think, we have two sort of types of customers though, which is interesting. One type are the pure businessmen or women that are like, “This is a great opportunity. I can get in there. I can go get the money for these people. No investment upfront and get paid for it.” Great. Fast cash flow, easy.
We have a second one that are kind of the helper mind-set people. They’ll be like, these people have lost everything, they’ve lost their home. They’re just really broke. And if I can get a chance to help them get at least some of their money back and make some money doing it, my primary goal as that sort of person – their primary goal is a do-gooder.
Mike: Yeah.
Bob: And I don’t want to use it in a bad way, but it’s someone who really has a heart for helping people.
Mike: Yeah. People can see that as a negative connotation, somebody lost their house and you’re preying on them, but the fact is this, they’re getting zero right now. So if you can find a way to help somebody and make money in the process, at the end of the day, everybody has an opportunity cost and everybody wants to do good for everybody. And I don’t want starving children in Africa, but I’m here with you today and not handing out food in Africa at the moment. It’s not that I want people to starve. It’s just that I have a family to feed and a business to run and things like that.
Bob: It’s a free country so you can set rates as high or as low as you want.
Mike: Yeah. Sure. Sure. Yeah.
Bob: If doing a case by case basis, you may find someone that, that’s really a sad situation and you may say, “You know what? I’m just going to do this for free for you. Cover our costs.”
Mike: Yeah.
Bob: “That’s $200 and I will get you the money.”
Mike: Right.
Bob: You may find someone else that was just a developer that had a tough time then, is now back on their feet again, making plenty of money and you may charge him full freight.
Mike: Yep.
Bob: So it is a free country and I think the money is just going to be lost to the government and if you think that’s a good idea, then it’s not a good business for you. Because that’s like the ultimate beneficiary if nobody does anything. Remember, we’re looking at money that’s been stranded for six months or longer.
Mike: Right.
Bob: People don’t know about it. If they knew about it, they would go get their money.
Mike: Right. Absolutely. So I just I have a question.
Bob: And I think . . .
Mike: I’m sorry. Go ahead.
Bob: I said nothing’s going to tip them off if the money is out there.
Mike: Yeah. That’s the unfortunate thing is if anybody is preying on anybody, it’s the county governments that don’t even tell anybody that this money is sitting there because quite frankly, they’re hoping that you don’t know and eventually you’ll forfeit it and it’ll go into their coffers, right?
Bob: Yeah. North Carolina was passing lots of laws around this. And they referred to it as their own slush fund. And they were . . . we don’t operate in all states, some states don’t, are not great to operate in, like, North Carolina put in a 10% finder’s fee limitation. So we’ve chosen not to go there.
But we’ve identified the 20 states that don’t have any limitations, that really are the best to operate in and those ones we operate in. But it is funny that sometimes a state . . . like North Carolina, I couldn’t . . . it was almost like someone had it just a momentary lapse of judgment and they actually told what they were thinking, like, “Oh. People helping people getting our county’s slush fund. And we got keep the slush fund.”
Mike: Right.
Bob: That was like “Oops.” That was a moment of unintentional truth.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. No kidding. I have a question for you. So how do you get paid typically? I mean, a lot of stuff in real estate happens on a HUD, right? So you’d be allowing the title of a company, the escrow company, the escrow agent to kind of divvy things up. How do you, in the instance that this is a business for you and you plan to make money on it. I assume the check is probably, typically written to the seller or to the owner and you have no collateral to put a lien against. How do you make sure that you get paid?
Bob: Well, we do two things. One, we do ask the counties to pay us directly and sometimes they will and sometimes they won’t. So sometimes that fixes it. The other thing we do is we have a power of attorney that’s limited from the former owner that allows us to deposit the check.
Mike: I see.
Bob: And then we just divvy it up. So we get the check, deposit it, and then we give them their portion. So if it’s . . . like typically 70-30 split, sometimes 60-40, meaning they get 70% or they get 60%.
Mike: Right.
Bob: And so we get the check, deposit it and then we just send them their portion and we keep the rest.
Mike: Okay.
Bob: Because if you’re keying in to, what can be a potential problem if you do this incorrectly and then if they get the check, they’re probably not going to write you a check.
Mike: Right. Right. Yeah.
Bob: So we have the money flow through our accounts, because that’s the way you’re assured of getting paid.
Mike: Sure. Sure. Yeah. Well, Bob, can you just clarify again. What do you kind of call this phenomena. I refer to it as overage funds. I heard you say that, but here we are kind of coming to the end of the show here in a few minutes, and kind of talk about what is this typically referred to?
Bob: We call this overages finding. Our product is called hooked-on overages, but the category is unclaimed funds. But what you’ll see if you looked up, say, unclaimed funds on Google, you would see people talking about unclaimed bank accounts and sometimes big money. Sometimes you might have something like an unclaimed life insurance policy.
Mike: Sure.
Bob: But generally unclaimed funds that are with the state treasurer are pretty small.
Mike: Yup.
Bob: It’s like I described to you earlier. I had a house that I sold. The insurance company sent a refund check for a partial year on home owners insurance to the house. I never got the check. Didn’t realize it was there. I did a check in Pennsylvania and there was this check sitting there from Nationwide Insurance. I’m like, “What’s that?” And it just turned out that it was a couple hundred dollars. Not any big deal or anything.
Mike: Yeah.
Bob: The difference with these monies is these monies are not held at the . . . they’re not held at the state treasurer level. And they’re typically larger amounts. When you talk about somebody sells a tax sale property, it sells for a lot, especially if it has a house on it.
Mike: Right.
Bob: And when you had asked how frequently is there extra money left over? Almost always one there’s a structure on the property there’s extra money. So if there’s a house or something habitable, it’s going to sell for more than the taxes.
Mike: Yeah.
Bob: The ones that don’t sell for more than the taxes are things like little strips of land that aren’t very useful, a lot of times they won’t even sell. A vacant land sometimes doesn’t sell, but anything with a structure will probably sell,
Mike: Yeah. That’s interesting. Yeah. Well, Bob, how, if folks want to learn more, I know you teach others how to do this in your law practice. Maybe you could tell us how they can learn more and then also how they might contact you or your firm if they’re interested in learning more.
Bob: Sure. So they can go to and they can see information about our products and services. And it’s just like it sounds and I don’t think we have a huge business of just pulling in customers randomly. But you can get some free reports and things like that from us and there’s educational videos. They can learn more about it.
Mike: Great.
Bob: And we do have a longer video that can give you all of the details, but I think it’s a really cool thing. Mike, why I get so jazzed up about it, is it doesn’t take a big investment upfront because I’m not buying this. I’m not buying; we only claim the money from someone. I’m just claiming it on their behalf. So I don’t have a big upfront investment. I get to help people, which I think is really important. I want a business where I help people and not where I take advantage of them.
Mike: Yep.
Bob: And it’s pretty fast. It’s typically, when we’re applying for money, we’re usually getting it within 30 to 60 days. We’re getting the money back from the county, which is a really fast turnaround. And we can get the list and I can send out some emails and get lists back, the same day or next day. It’s a pretty quick business, which I like.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. That’s fascinating. And it’s a niche that probably a lot of people don’t know exist. Obviously we’re talking about it here, so more people will know about it at least.
Bob: I didn’t even know. I got tell to you a really quick story about how I found about the niche.
Mike: Yeah.
Bob: So I became an attorney. Mind you, a real estate attorney, who was a former investor and still an investor, in 1995. I didn’t find out about this till 2005. And I find out because a client came into my office and said, “I lost some land to tax sale, I want to see about getting it back. Can you see if I about overturning a sell?” And I said, “We’ll let me look into it because sometimes I can,” it depends if there was a defect on the sale. So I looked into it and there was no problem on the sale. He was notified. Everything was proper. T’s were crossed. I’s were dotted. And I said, “You know, you could pay me to litigate this, but I think you’re wasting your money.”
Mike: Right.
Bob: I think it’s not a good idea. But I did say, “Your property, this little piece of land. Your property is sold for $22,000, you only owed $9000 in taxes and fees and auction costs.” I said, “I think you should be able to get the extra money back.” I’ve never like done this litigation, never heard of anybody that’s done it. But it only makes sense to me that I can make this successful argument, that if you owed 9000 that was paid, that the extra money should go to the former owner.
Mike: Right.
Bob: It just makes sense. So I went over to the sheriff’s office and in Philadelphia that’s who holds those sales. And I went over to the sheriff’s office, I talked to them about it and they agreed with me. And they said, “Yeah. Makes sense to us. Lets give you the extra money.” And so I showed up with an extra . . .
Mike: So it’s almost like they had never even given money back before.
Bob: They hadn’t. And it actually took me to go . . . I had to talk to a couple of people including the supervisor. But they were like, it only makes sense if we got paid in full, then we don’t need the extra money. And so I got him a check and I was like “That’s really interesting, that this sort of exists.” And truthfully, as an attorney I was busy doing my day-to-day law practice and I really didn’t give it more thought. It was just another matter I handled.
But then I ran into a friend of mine, who was doing the business full time, as an actual business and that was in 2009 and we got together and started it. I basically wrote a course on it and put all the training together. So I thought, we can always handle a very small part of the country and there are literally thousands and thousands of these things.
Mike: Right.
Bob: And in a good year, we’re going to do 150 to 200 of these claims. And I thought and all that other money is just being lost.
Mike: Right.
Bob: So I started teaching other people how to do it.
Mike: Yeah.
Bob: It’s been fun. It’s a fun business. Its fun to teach people on how to be successful.
Mike: Lost. “Lost” in air quotes. But somebody found it in their slush fund. Yeah.
Bob: I don’t like government slush funds. Give people their money.
Mike: Yeah. Awesome, Bob. Well, thanks again and we’ll add a link for the Diamond Law Center down below here. If folks want to learn more about Bob and or the topic we talked about today. He actually has a training program on where he teaches others to do that and be able to help people too. Bob thanks so much for your time. I appreciate you being here today.
Bob: Sure. It was great being here and thanks for the interview. It was fun doing the interviewing, fun to talk about something that I’m excited about.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Thanks for bringing that passion to us today. All right my friend. Have a good day.
Bob: You too. Thanks. Bye.
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