Fishing For Dollars in Real Estate Investing – Use All Your Lures

For at least sixty-five years I have enjoyed fishing. My grandpa had acquired a 64 acre plot of land in Big Cottonwood Canyon just east of Salt Lake City. It is some of the most beautiful land in the whole state of Utah. Eventually the popular Solitude Ski Resort was built next to it. I don’t know the particulars but I recall Grandpa telling me he bought that land for pennies on the dollar. He was a farmer without much education but he found this property through the delinquent tax records for Salt Lake County. Grandpa paid the back taxes. I don’t even know where he got the money. He had a shirt-tail relative who was a lawyer and this fellow contacted the heirs who were scattered around the country and had each one sign a quit-claim deed for any interest they had in the land.

Grandpa built a cabin next to the creek and spent the next 30 years developing the land. As a boy I spent several summers working in Silver Fork, building roads with a pick and shovel, digging a ditch to bring ice cold water from an old silver mine to supply the needs of the growing community, and filling a pickup with topsoil to haul back to the farm every Saturday. Grandpa would sell a 50 X 100 foot lot on the creek for $600 at 6% simple interest. People would make their payments to Grandpa in cash and he would take a little notebook out of his bib overalls and write it down for his records. My parents built a cabin on their 50 X 100 foot lot in 1953. I imagine their total cost was under $3,000. My brothers and I sold it a few years ago for $195,000 and that was the last time anything sold in the area for under $200,000.

Those were great days. Every morning I would walk down some rickety steps to the creek and catch fish for breakfast. I was a two bait fisherman using worms or grasshoppers. Most of the time I did pretty well but some days the fish weren’t taking either bait. At age twelve I got a winter job in an old sporting goods store. Customers would come in to visit, tell stories, and buy materials for tying their own fishing flies. I learned to tie flies and soon I was using a variety of patterns. Spin fishing became popular and gave me another method to catch fish. Trolling has also helped me land some big ones. Let us not forget the joys of ice fishing. When I go now I have so many ways to catch fish that I seldom get skunked.

Why this long introduction? Here is the meat. As we immerse ourselves in the exciting world of real estate investing we learn many strategies. We take classes in probate cash advance, lease option, foreclosure, probate, creative financing, marketing, etc. We read books. We are mentored and coached. Then, many of us put on blinders. Blinders are for horses but the term is also used metaphorically to refer to people with an overly narrow focus or inability to see the larger picture. When we evaluate a property with blinders on we limit our opportunity to make a deal. When we take them off good things can happen. Let me give you an example of taking the blinders off and using duct tape, wire, and glue to put a deal together.

On March 13, 2006, I received a call from a lady who had seen my “I Buy Houses” advertisement. I used my motivated seller sheet and filled in the responses as I asked her questions. I determined it was worth driving 100 miles to meet the seller and look at the property. This lady had lost her job, run out of workers comp, was eight payments behind on her mortgage, her husband was in prison for 4 1/2 more years, and she needed to move in with her sister. The trustee sale had been set for July. The house was filled with stuff from floor to ceiling in some rooms and you couldn’t even walk into the garage.


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