Join me in a discussion with John Anderson, Co-Founder of Oyezz, a short sale brokerage. Oyezz started working short sales before many knew what they were, and today, they continue to thrive as true experts in a space where many have come and gone. In this show, we learn more about John Anderson and Oyezz, and hear John’s take on trends in the Short Sale world.
Mike: Welcome to the FlipNerd.com podcast. This is your host, Mike Hambright, and on this show I will introduce you to VIP’s in the Real Estate investing industry as well as other interesting entrepreneurs whose stories and experiences can help you take your business to the next level. We have three new shows each week which are available in the iTunes stores. Or by visiting FlipNerd.com. So without further ado, let’s get started.
Hey it’s Mike Hambright back with another FlipNerd VIP show. Today I’m joined by John Anderson who’s the founder and CEO of Oyezz which is a brokerage that focuses on short sales in the North Texas region. But he’s got great information about short sales and the short sale industry that affects… That impacts people nationwide. And of course, we’re going to learn more about his story and how he built his successful business. Before we get started let’s take a second to recognize out featured sponsors.
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Hey John, welcome to the show.
John: Thanks Mike, thanks for having me.
Mike: Good. Good. Glad you’re here. So tell us a little bit about… Before we introduce you and learn a little bit about you, tell me how you came up with the name of your company.
John: Interesting story. Me and my partner who is Eartha Wang, started the… Getting into real estate we initially started as investors. We were buying properties and repairing them and selling them basically. Like a lot… That’s how I think a lot of people get into this business. And it started to grow and we had a friend that was an attorney. And he had said,
“You really should incorporate to protect your personal assets.” And we went okay well let’s do it. Then got out the paperwork to file for a corporation and, you know, in there it’s like company name and we had never even thought about a company name before.
So it became a quick exercise, well let’s come up with a name. And Eartha literally opened a dictionary and pointed to the first word she saw which was oyez. Which is spelled O-Y-E-Z. Which is what a bailiff says when court starts. “Oye, oye, oye all rise, Judge Judy’s coming in.” And she also had read a book about Google and how the word “Google” is actually misspelled. They had added an extra O to it, so she basically copied them and added a Z to the oye. And we changed the pronunciation to oyez which kind of sounded like oh yes. And five minute exercise and that’s the company name.
And it’s worked out well because it’s different and unusual. You know, it could have been Anderson and Wang Real Estate. But, you know, that’s not noticeable. The Oyezz, we get asked a lot about the name so it makes us recognizable.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. Great. Okay. Well tell us a little bit about your background, before you got in the short sale business. About how you kind of came about and maybe how you identified an opportunity that obviously today is a big deal. Certainly in some parts of the country. But tell us a little bit about, kind of, your journey about how you got from… I know you had a corporate background and then got into real estate investing yourself. And then obviously found your way into the short sale business.
John: Yeah. Both Eartha and I came out of the telephone industry. She’s an electrical engineer; I have a computer science background. And I had worked in the telephone industry for 25 years, became an executive there. And then when the telecom industry imploded and I got sent on my way, I thought it would be great to get into real estate. I had some real estate background in different cities, buying houses and repairing them and living in them and selling them. So I figured I would do it full time.
So we got into it, like I said Eartha and I just initially just buying houses and investing in them. But what we soon found was it was hard to find good deals. So we were looking for ways to buy houses cheaper. And we came across this concept of short sales.
Now this is before the collapse of the housing market in 2008. And so we learned what short sales were, how they worked and we started looking for distressed houses that were upside down in value simply because they were physically distressed. The homeowners had abused the house.
Mike: And so what year would this have been when you started doing this?
Mike: 2007, okay. The calm before the storm.
John: Yeah. And it was working. I can’t say we did a lot of them. But, you know, we were getting two or three a year that we were getting houses sold short to us. And we were buying them ourselves. And back then the process was really difficult. But it was also easier to get the banks to accept a huge discount back then. I don’t think they were very wise as far as looking at the value of the houses.
So it was working and then, like you said, in June 2008 when the economy tanked and the housing market collapsed, all of the sudden like one out of four houses were upside down in value. And we were like wow we’re in the right place, right time with the right processes.
So we started doing them for consumers. Not just to buy them. And collecting the commission from the lenders to get the house sold short. And changed the whole business model, and that’s how we got into this business. And now we do… I’d say right now we’ve probably got 120 in progress.
John: At any given point in time. So it’s… We can do quite a volume now. The market bears that fairly well.
Mike: Okay. We have a lot of savvy real estate investors that watch the show. But just for those that maybe don’t understand what a short sale is, why don’t you talk a little bit about what that even means.
John: Okay. Well basically what a short sale is, it’s where a house is sold for less than what’s owed on the mortgage. So let’s say you have a mortgage of $100,000 that’s due. But the house sells for $80,000 because of the market itself says the neighborhood’s only worth $80,000 or the house is physically distressed and the value has fallen to $80,000.
Basically we get the house sold for 80 or less than 80 because banks still will accept a discount on some houses if they’re sold short. So we get it sold for let’s say $70,000 and that $70,000 pays off the mortgage completely. The homeowner walks away free and clear, they don’t owe the difference. And the buyer gets the house free and clear. No encumbrances…
Mike: And the seller avoids foreclosure and the bank avoids all the expense of having to go through foreclosure. Is that the primary motivation for those two parties right?
John: Exactly. The seller is… In addition the seller also has the opportunity to get some cash. Because the bank is trying to avoid the foreclosure enough to the point where they’ll sell it at a discount and give, not a lot, but some cash to the seller to incent them to do the short sale.
And it still… The bank still comes out ahead because if they go through the foreclose process, they’re going to have to pay an attorney… And their processors are so slow they end up sitting on a house for months, maybe a year. So they’re paying all the taxes, the HOA fees. And then in many cases they end up having to evict the homeowner because they won’t leave. So the costs just keep climbing. So the short sale is a clean cut and it’s worth it to them to pay us a commission and pay the homeowner an incentive to move out with a clean house.
Mike: Okay. So talk about this kind of phenomenon that started to occur in
’08, ’09, 2010 where all of the sudden, every real estate agent in the world is a short sale expert.
John: Yeah. Well like I said, I don’t know the statistics any more but back then in ’08 it was out of four houses was upside down in value. So that 25 percent of the market had to be sold short if it was going to be sold. And when you have that big of a piece of the pie being short, every agent out there took a class and said they’re a short sale expert or they’re short sale certified. And so everybody was claiming they could do it.
But short sales are not very easy. And if you’re used to the traditional real estate sale, short sales can be confusing and in most cases they fail. As a matter of fact here’s a statistic that does hold true that only 20 percent of short sales actually close. The 80 percent that don’t close usually go into foreclosure or they try a different agent to do the short sale. So it’s not a very successful transaction in most cases.
Luckily ours is not down there, our transactions are pretty high. Our closes are pretty high. We’re up in the 90 percent range. But that’s mainly because that’s all we do. So we’ve… We do a large volume so we’ve got a lot of knowledge about how to get through the bank’s maze of processes and, you know, the difficulties that they have.
Mike: Yeah. So that close rate is phenomenal. Talk a little bit about what that means. Because it seems to me you’d have a high percentage of people that, you know, as a real estate investor myself I know there’s a lot of folks that when they start to realize that they are in some sort of financial trouble, sometimes they throw up their hands or they’ve mentally convinced themselves that I don’t care what happens to my credit. Or if I’m not going to get much, then I might as well just walk away from it.
Some of the motivation I know is to get that seller engaged to get the information they need to the lender. Because the lender requires them to provide certain things like a hardship letter, copies of their financials and tax returns. Talk a little bit about how you’ve overcome that where a lot of other agents maybe haven’t.
John: You hit something that’s really important there about the seller. In most cases, these sellers have mentally checked out. Because they’re… I’m going to deviate a little bit here. There’s two criteria that they have to meet in order to qualify for a short sale. One is they have to have the house upside down, which we talked about. And the other thing is they have to have a financial difficulty.
If they’re flush with cash or they’ve got a six figure job and they just want to get rid of their house, they’re not going to quality. So to qualify, basically there’s a handful of reasons. One divorce, loss of job, loss of income. Medical problems like, you know, severe… Can’t work because you’ve had a heart attack. Or forced relocation. And in those scenarios, those are usually bad things.
So if somebody lost their job, and then what we also see in many cases, they lose their job and then they end up getting divorced because of the stress of the situation. Now they’re losing their house. So these people are not happy campers. You know, bad things have happened to them, now they’re losing their house. They really don’t care in many cases. So it’s really difficult to get the necessary information and stuff out of them.
So what we’ve learned to do with these is basically do it ourselves. We don’t rely on the person to do it. So the hardship letter, we go to them, go to their house and sit down with them and talk to them about what the situation is. And then in some cases we’ll write it for them and have them sign it just to make it easy on them.
The other thing is, throughout the short sale process you have to collect financial information. Which is basically pay stubs and checking account statements. And you have to get it every month from them. So that is a challenge because a lot of times these folks, like I said earlier, checked out. And they’re like I don’t want to go to the bank, I’ve done enough of this.
So again, it requires hand holding. In some cases we’ll ask them, call your bank and give the bank permission for us to go pick up a copy of your checking account statement. And we’ll drive to the bank and pick it up for them. Pay stubs, you know, we’ve had cases where we’ve gone to their employer and said, you know, get permission from them first but pick up a copy of their pay stub for them. Just to keep the process moving.
So it’s a lot of busy work running around and we end up having to have a courier pick up a lot of the stuff. But it keeps the deals alive.
Mike: Right. Right. Well can you talk a little…
John: And after one more…
Mike: Yeah, go ahead.
John: I was going to throw one more thing. Another thing we’ve learned is we get everything we can up front at the initial meeting so that we’re not coming back and asking them for anything. I’ve seen some agents who say they’re short sale specialists basically give a package to the consumer and say here fill it out, send it in, let me know when the bank says they got it. And you know, if it’s a stack of 40 pages they put it in the drawer and say I’ll get to it later and never get to it.
Mike: Right. Right. Okay. And talk a little bit about what you feel has happened over the last several years in terms of banks being a little more… A little bit easier to work with. Because I know that some are harder to work with than others. And I know in the past, just generally speaking, things, from what I’ve heard, seemed to be easier now because they have processes in place and things like that, than they did in years past. Could you talk a little bit about the trend of what’s happened there?
John: Yeah there’s some things that have gotten better and some things that have gotten… I’m not going to say worse but not good for the investor community with the banks becoming better at dealing with short sales. When we first started doing short sales back in the 2006 and 7 area, some of the banks… I’m not kidding, some banks we’d call and say we want to do a short sale and they’d say what’s a short sale?
John: And a couple of small banks in Fort Worth, we literally went to them and showed them what a short sale is and they agreed to do them. But that’s a long time ago.
Since the housing market collapsed, most banks now know what a short sale is and what’s changed is that they’ve really beefed up the departments that process short sales. And once they do that, they’ve also improved their processes. And the other thing many of the big banks have done is improved the ability to communicate with them.
Basically there’s a system out there called Equator that as a brokerage we put information in Equator, the bank sees it in there, the bank puts their information in Equator and we see it. So we got away from that I faxed you this document and them saying well I never received it.
Some funny stories, there’s some banks we literally faxed 40 page documents to them 20 or 30 times. We would just send it over and over and over and over because they kept saying they didn’t receive it. And we were… Our approach was well if you’re going to say you didn’t receive it I’m going to give it to you 30 times.
John: But those days are gone with the new systems and the banks having their processes improved. Now the downside of this is that the banks have gotten much smarter about the values of houses in a short sale. Early on a lot of times they just took our word for it on what the value was. Now they do their due diligence and they know the value.
So the days of being able to get a house for $0.50 on the dollar in a short sale are long gone. They do… The banks do sell them at a discount, but it’s not those huge discounts. So that’s the one downside. But with volume it kind of makes it up.
Mike: Right. Right. So talk a little bit about the business side of your business. So at some point you were working short sales for yourself. And then you decided to turn that into essentially a service provider and a brokerage to work with other investors and other folks that may bring deals to you. So talk about your kind of decision to make that a service for others.
John: When we initially started like you said, we were buying the short sales ourselves. And a couple of things happened. One, it became more difficult for us to buy them ourselves because the banks could see the conflict of interest in there. That if we were the broker representing the seller and the buyer, they a lot of times would say we won’t do that. We’ll let you be the broker and the selling agent, but you can’t be the buyer. So that was one piece that made us decide, well if we want to do this we need to move it more towards a service than an investment type scenario.
The second thing is, is we saw the volume and we thought with enough volume we could… Even though the commissions are not very big compared to what you could make when you purchase and sell a house, especially on the retail side. But if we did enough of these, we could do a lot more and make up for the loss on the investment side. So that was the business decision, was to do volume and make it a service.
And we also saw at that point in time that it was a void in the market. That there was a lot of people out there that wanted to do a short sale but agents didn’t know how to do it or refused to do it. And we thought well if we jump on this early we can get in there ahead of the curve and grab a bigger piece of the pie.
Mike: Right. Right. So how much of your business now is from referrals? You know, whether it’s investors or other agents bringing you deals to work versus I guess maybe things you’re finding organically yourself?
John: Stuff we find organically ourselves, which would be, you know, our web page, Yellow Pages, some print advertising. Probably only makes up about 30 percent of our business now. The other 70 percent is all referral from investors and from real estate agents. And the motivation for those two are different.
Real estate agents basically do a… We cut the commission. They get a percent, we get a percent. On the investors side, basically what we offer is is that if they send an offer in with it, they become the first in line. Which, you know, we can talk about the process of short sales in a minute, but it allows them to be first and they have the first opportunity to buy the house.
So if they find it through their own advertising, but it’s upside down and they want to purchase it through a short sale, we can get them first in line so that they are first to buy. And then if it doesn’t work then we’ll pay them a finders fee.
Mike: Okay. Okay. And talk a little bit about… Are you primarily serving the Dallas, Fort Worth area? The North Texas area? Or do you work deals all over the country?
John: We… Good question. Our main area is Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston. Those are the two cities that we have the most volume. We are currently looking at expanding into San Antonio and Austin. Which hopefully this year we’ll be there.
However, we can do them anywhere in the country, and we have. We’ve done them in West Virginia, Louisiana, a bunch in California. And basically in those scenarios though, all we do is the negotiations with the lenders.
An agent that has a license in let’s say California, the houses in California, has to represent the seller as a real estate agent. And then what we end up doing is again, splitting the commission between the agent that’s representing the seller and us that’s doing the negotiation with the lender.
Mike: Right. So you really need to have, I guess, boots on the ground to gather information from the sellers and stuff. Which is harder to do centrally I guess.
John: Well actually even in that scenario, what we do is we still gather the information from the seller. We have to do it remotely either through mail or fax. We don’t rely on the agent in the state to do it. Because again, it decreases the likelihood that it’s going to close. But what we do use that agent for is they do the listing in their local MLS system and they also do like the pictures because obviously we can’t take pictures of the house from Texas. So they just do kind of the basic stuff.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. And is that seem to be an opportunity for you to partner with… Because I guess I was going to say to partner with out of state agents or sources. And do you feel like that your negotiating side is kind of the crown jewel of your business?
John: Absolutely. That’s what we really focused on, was our processes and the negotiators themselves. There’s a team of four negotiators out there. I don’t know if you can hear them talking behind me. But those are the folks that make it happen, because they’re on the phone, they know how to deal with the lenders. They know the ins and outs of each lender because that’s all they do eight hours a day, five days a week.
And that’s what makes us successful, is understanding how to get that lender to agree to a short payoff and not have them play bureaucracy with us and say oh I’m missing this document or, you know, I can’t find your file. We’ve learned how to get around that stuff. So that… The way you put it, I’ve never used that term before. Crown jewel. But that is our secret sauce.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. And so where do you think short sales are going from here? What are some of the trends you’ve seen to kind of get us up to now in terms of if there are more short sales available or they’re just easier to convert because of some of the systems that lenders have put in place to make it easier on their side. And where do you see things going over the, let’s say the next couple of years with short sale opportunities?
John: I believe short sales in the volume that we’re seeing them now should stay around for about two more years. And that’s based on the fact that by 2008, the market values of houses had climbed so high that people who bought, let’s say from 2006 to 2008, are still upside down. And to be honest, they’ll probably be upside down for another ten years because they over paid by that much. And you know, when you’re paying off a mortgage at first most of your payment is interest and very little goes to principle.
So there’s going to be short sales forever. In this bubble we went through in 2008 will probably be out there until 2018, 19. But the volume will drop off. But now… I’ll get on my soap box and give you my prediction.
John: And it’s based kind of on personal experience and other things. I got two kids that are out of college. And my daughter has been out of school for a couple of years and she came out of school with $30,000 of debt. My brother and sister have kids the same age, and all of their kids are sitting on between $50,000 and $20,000 in debt. So it’s a lot of debt that young people are carrying. And you hear the news…
Mike: Yeah I think it’s like a trillion dollars. A trillion dollars in college debt.
John: Yeah. Right. My daughter, you know, let’s say she marries somebody that’s similar to her that’s sitting on $30,000 of debt. You know, as a couple that’s $60,000k of debt. They’re never going to get a mortgage until they pay that debt down a little bit. So I think we’re going to have this generation of people that should be buying their first starter home now and over the next three or four years, that aren’t going to be buying houses. And I think that’s going to cause another problem in the housing market.
So I think that lack of demand for starter homes is going to cause people that have starter homes that need to upgrade a difficulty at selling those things at a profit. And right now I think Wall Street propping it up by the hedge funds buying these properties. But I don’t think that’s going to last forever. So I believe we’re going to see another dip in the housing market in the next couple of years. And it could bring short sales back to the front again.
Mike: Okay. Okay. So maybe there’s a short sale opportunity to pay off college debt. What do you think about that?
John: Yeah. That would be really good business. But that would be a tough one because college debt is one of things, it’s really hard to get out of. Even if you file bankruptcy it doesn’t go away.
John: So getting and…
Mike: But maybe there’s a way for lenders to say look we’ll pay it off if you accept this amount. Kind of negotiate an up front pay off.
John: Yeah. Yeah that would work. That’s an idea Mike.
Mike: Yeah I know, hey.
John: Don’t tell anybody.
Mike: I won’t tell any… I won’t tell a soul.
John: Yeah. That’s something to think about.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. So you think… And what do you think about the general shortage of inventory in the market right now? I mean at this point obviously it’s gotten tight pretty much everywhere across the country. I mean record lows in terms of days on market and inventory availability. That’s just, really, just kind of pushing prices up all around.
John: Yeah. Again, I attribute that personally to the amount of houses that are still upside down. I think there’s a large portion of people out there that have upside down houses that can’t sell. But they’re not in a position where they have to sell, you know. They’re holding down a job, they make good money, they don’t… They’re not in a position where they have to get rid of the house. But they’re not. Because they can’t. And maybe they want to.
I think statistically most houses… People only hold them seven years and then they upgrade. But I think there’s a lot of people out there that can’t. So it’s holding back the market that should be out there selling. And you know, that’s causing what’s out there to go up in price.
But it’s a limited inventory so it’s, you know, it could be perceived as a false increase in prices just because of the limited inventory. You know, typical supply and demand. But again I think if you throw in my prediction on top that where less buyers are going to be out there and if Wall Street and the investing community isn’t buying like they are now, we could see a dip.
Mike: Right. Right. So John, why don’t you tell us a little bit about how you work with others? So talk about… For folks that are watching the show that might be interested in working with you. Whether they’re investors, agents, we may even have some folks that are looking for a way to do a short sale on their own house to get out of it. Talk about kind of who the different folks you serve are that you work with. And then how they get a hold of you.
John: We serve pretty much anybody. And like I said earlier, if they’re upside down in value and they have a financial difficulty in paying for the house, that qualifies them for a short sale. To come to us, they can either come to us directly by contacting us through the website or calling our phone number, which you can find on our website.
The other way which is more common is that these folks are contacting investors like the folks that you deal with. Or real estate agents looking for a way to get out of the house. And if that’s the case what the investor can do is basically just bring it to us and say, you know, I’ve got somebody that’s upside down. I’d like to buy the house, can you help me by getting it sold short? And from there, we take over.
We’ll contact… All we as is that you give the homeowner a heads up that they’re going to be contacted by Oyezz. We’ll contact them, we’ll screen them, we’ll do all the paper work, we’ll get the house set up from a sales point. We’re not going to go in and touch the house. We’ll get it set up for the sale. At the same time we would be looking for an offer from the investor for what they’re willing to pay for it. If that comes in first, what we do is we submit that offer to the bank. And now that’s one difference between a short sale and let’s say an REO or a foreclosure.
In a foreclosure, the way the banks manage it is if the agent collects all the offers, let’s say they get five or ten offers. They submit them all to the bank and the bank goes through them and determines which want they want. In a short sale it doesn’t work that way. It’s basically the first one in gets the first shot at the house. So offer comes in, we execute it with the seller and we send it to the bank. And if it’s a offer that the bank is willing to accept, it’s a done deal and the house is sold to the first person.
But if the bank comes back and they do their due diligence and let’s say it’s just a super low ball offer. It’s a $100,000 house and they put an offer in for $40,000. The bank may come back and say, “40K isn’t going to work but I’ll take 80.” We would go back to the investor and say they want 80 are you willing to pay 80? If the investor says, “Yeah, yeah, 80 will work,” then it’s their house.
But if the investor says, “80 isn’t going to work I won’t do it,” basically their offer is taken off the table and we put a backup offer. Which they come in… Because we’re on the market on MLS. We go to them and say the bank wants 80 anybody want to pay 80? We take the highest offer, it goes to the bank and it’s sold. And in that case, since it was brought in by the investor, we’ll pay him a finders fee for bringing it in as a short sale. So either way, you know, they may get the house. Which is a much better deal for them. If not then they do get some cash out of it for bringing it in the door.
Mike: So given the fact that investors are typically offering much lower prices than say a home owner might own or occupy. What’s your sense on what percentage of the time the investor that brings a short sale opportunity to you is actually able to buy the house?
John: I’m going to qualify that by putting two different buckets. Because the investors are bringing all kinds of houses in. If they’re pretty houses, then almost always they’re not going to get it.
John: Because the banks, like I said earlier, they do their due diligence. If it’s a pretty house, it’s in good shape, they know they can get good money out of that house and they’re going to demand top dollar. So they won’t discount it.
But now if they bring in a house that’s physically distressed, in other words it’s… The home owner has just ruined the house. You know, there’s no flooring or the foundation is so bad that there’s huge cracks in the walls. And you know, roof, plumbing, electrical problems. Those types of houses, home owners have a difficult time buying because you can’t get them financed any more. And if it has no flooring, you’re not going to get an FHA loan. And even conventional loans, you’d have to put down a pretty big down payment in order to get a conventional loan on a house that’s physically distressed.
So the banks… And that’s another thing that’s changed. Is the banks understand that only an investor is going to buy these physically distressed homes. So they’re willing to give investor prices on those. And so in those cases when they’re poor conditioned houses. I’d say about half the time we see the investor get the house.
Mike: Wow that’s great.
John: But again, it has to be the physically distressed home.
John: The pretty homes… And if I had to break it up, the vast majority of houses that investors bring in are pretty homes.
Mike: Okay. Okay. All right. Well John, if people want to get a hold of you at Oyezz, can you talk a little bit about real quickly how they would get a hold of you? What website to go to, what number to call?
John: You can get to our website, which is Oyezz.com which is O-Y-E-Z-Z
.com. Or they can call our office number which is 972-342-0011. And just ask for one of the sales folks and they’ll talk to you all you want.
Mike: Great. Great. Well we’ll put that information below the video as well so anybody watching can get a hold of you guys. So John, thanks for sharing your information on the short sale industry and the story on how you got to where you are. And it’s interesting in doing these shows. I always want to hear the angle of when an entrepreneur discovered that there’s got to be a better way or there’s an opportunity here that needs to be exploited. And so it’s interesting to hear your story on that. So thanks for joining.
John: Yeah thanks for having me. It was really fun talking to you.
Mike: Okay. Great. Great. Well take care, we’ll see you around.
John: Okay bye Mike.
Mike: All right. Bye.
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