In today’s episode of Discount Property Investor Podcast, David Dodge is joined by Bill Gross, the LA Probate expert. Bill has been in real estate investing for 36 years and focuses on Probate as his niche. If you don’t have anybody in real estate to work with your Probate, connect with Bill and let him help you finish the job.
Welcome back to the Discount Property Investor podcast. Our mission is to share what we have learned from our experience and the experience of others to help you make more money investing like a pro. We want to teach you how to create wealth by investing in real estate, the discount property investor way. To jumpstart your real estate investing career, visit freewholesalecourse.com, the most complete free course on wholesaling real estate ever. Thanks for tuning in.
David: All right guys, welcome back to the discount property investor podcast. I am your host David Dodge and today I am joined by Bill Gross, the LA probate expert. Bill, How the hell are you man?
Bill: Doing so good David, it's just not even fair.
David: I love it man, I absolutely love it. Bill, thanks for coming on the show today.
David: I know you're going to have a ton of really valuable information that we can share with our listeners and our viewers. And you know, probate's one of these topics that we don't really talk about all that often. I think we've maybe done one or two episodes out of about 300 that you know, maybe mentioned it or talked a little bit about it but we don't really have like you know, we've never had an expert on yet.
Bill: Here we go.
David: So this is actually fantastic for us to bring you on, share a little bit of information about what it is, how it works and why somebody would even care to know, you know?
Bill: Sure, sure.
David: Bill, tell us a little bit and again, welcome to the show man.
Bill: Thank you.
David: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Bill: So I'm from Southern California, I grew up here and I you know, most of my life I've been in real estate 36 years. I started lending and I've been in real estate sales, management, consulting but back to production two and a half years ago, I mean back to being a salesperson but I focused on probate specifically two and a half years ago, made that my niche in sight to be an expert, not just by getting a certificate but really learning what probate is to be an expert deep in it. LA is a largest probate market in the country so it was a big enough market to focus there and I built a very successful real estate brokerage business and people, my team as well, helping them just focusing on people who have inherited property, trying to inherit property, investors who find a deal but there's a title problem. What I tell people is usually your title problem is my probate opportunity. Let me help you fix it, and that's what we work on every day.
David: Awesome, very cool. Been in the game for 36 years. He focused on probate as your niche, done all types of other stuff, that's really cool. So thank you for that, that's awesome. Do you live in LA as well or no?
Bill: I do, I live in West Los Angeles right now.
David: Awesome. So you're doing probate deals in the market you live in.
David: What do you do when you come across a probate deal? What do you with them?
Bill: So I do a couple things. I represent investors, I look for properties in LA and California, about 5% of the properties need court sale confirmation so it's opportunity which always been in escrow for 45 days to step up and buy it and overbid it and buy the property. So I represent investors buying property there one or two times a month and usually there's a fix and flip so I fix it up and then resell it. I represent the states and families of attorneys, they have property that they need to get through probate. California in particular, very cumbersome. Some states are like that, LA's a little easier. So I help them through the maze rather than just selling the house, I can help them through the probate process as well.
David: Man, sounds like you got all angles. So, my partners and I have purchased properties from people that have gone through probate. We have- we are in the process of purchasing a property from a guy that didn't know he needed to go into probate and they started that process.
Bill: There you go. That's my man right there.
David: And my wife's father passed away about a year ago and we were on the inside of the probate side of things. So I was, you know, with it being my wife, of course I'm in real estate, I helped her get rid of the property and in fact, we sold it to one of our friends who went and rehabbed it so it was really cool but I've seen kind of both sides of it. I know it's time-consuming, that's about as far as I know though. I mean, my wife handled the probate on her end and it was just we had to get a lawyer and you know, the process took a long time. Here in Missouri, we were able to sell the property without lawyer or without judge approval as long as we had 75% or higher of what it appraised for from a third-party appraiser. So we went through that process, followed basically, was guided and coached by our attorney because we were like we want to sell this thing right away.
David: Get rid of these expenses. Let's sell it and I didn't want to sell it to me because it's just not really- it's too close, its arms reach, all that type of stuff, so we just found one of my buddies who flips and obviously that's what I do too, and we got- gave him a you know, a good deal on it and we were able to sell it before probate was even over. Now, we had started the process- is that similar? Is that a nationwide thing or is that just some Missouri thing?
Bill: Well, I think your process is very common countrywide. So here's the problem though, you guys found a good attorney who's able to help you. Two things about that: one, 90% of the probate cases are done by attorneys who don't know anything about probate and so- it's like a real estate agent, you know, w-e I have a license, I can sell residential, commercial, industrial, leases, vacation homes, I could sell the Golden Gate Bridge, I just don't know how to sell the Golden Gate Bridge but attorneys- and this in California, their license allows them to do anything within the law and then they'll take cases, criminal, DUI, corporations, divorces and then a probate walks in the room and they go wow that's you know, 10, 20 thousand dollars of fees, I don't want to let that walk out the door. So 95% of cases in LA county are done by attorneys who've done one probate or less in less 12 months.
David: That's terrible. So the guy I hired was a probate attorney.
Bill: So you got lucky or you're smart, one or the other. Most people don't think it through and they go well, I know this guy, he's great. Well he might be great but doesn't mean that he was able process. So you- it worked out for you, but for so many people-
David: Yeah. Ours was a friend and he ended up billing us 68 hundred flat so I thought that was a good deal.
Bill: So I'll tell you, as an investor, if you find that deal, if I could show you how to lower the cost for that by a couple thousand dollars, that's profit in your pocket, right? Because sometimes either you or the seller has to pay that money and if you don't know what that cost is, you have to kind of estimate it high. So for example, one of the things I do is I use a probate service when investors like you comes to me and says, hey Bill, got this deal but it needs to go through probate. Depending on the case, I can look at it and assess it and often times, we'll take it to a service that charges maybe 1250 fees plus there's the court fees and that's about another 2 thousand dollars or so, it depends but so now we're at the door for 3 thousand instead of 1600, well either the seller save you 300, he can give you a better price or if you pay for it, it's costing you less. In his mind, he's budget's 1600, you're doing it for 3 thousand dollars, there's your profit, so that's recommended the deal.
David: Oh man I love that because yeah, I paid 6800.
Bill: Not bad, I mean by California- what- how much is the property worth?
Bill: Wow. So California, it's based on the value of the property, not the net equity. That's the other problem. You got a million-dollar house and let's say you have a 700 thousand lien against it, well the minute our house triggers appraisal fees maybe up to $23,000, but you only have 20,000 of equity whether- if it's free and clear, it's the same price for the fees typically. So that family comes to me and so I could have done for you for 1250 plus the fees and save them a lot of money.
David: Anywhere in the nation or just in LA?
Bill: So the [inaudible] I use is actually nationwide. I have my own podcast, probateweekly.com and actually interviewed one of the vendors I use a lot. It's easy-probate.com and I don't know if you want me to go into the service or not but I don't- I'm not affiliate, I don't get paid by them. I just love it.
David: What's the podcast name again?
Bill: Well mine is probateweekly.com.
Bill: I f you sign up on there, it's Thursday's 4 p.m. Pacific Time, 7 p.m. Eastern and we're there every week. I put into YouTube with- if you're registered and you can't make it, we'll send out a recording. But one of the past episodes, if you got o probateweeklyepisodes.com, I interviewed the founder of that company, Byron Bates, who runs easy-probate. So, if you've gone to them instead of the attorney- now again, the attorney can do certain things, depends on what you need. Some cases need an attorney so my job is to kind of be the point guard, do you need an attorney or not? I didn't say- 10% time you need the attorney but 9% of the time, you don't and I can save you, you know, an extra- net bottom line, I can save you about another 3, 4 thousand dollars.
David: Yeah, that's awesome. That adds up. Okay so Bill, sorry to talk about me, this is about you. I was just telling a little bit of what I know. So there's a lot of listeners that don't know what I know, right? So let's just take it back to the basics real quick. What is probate?
Bill: So, I'll give you a key definition somebody- I stole from a friend of mine which is probate is when you file a lawsuit against yourself and whatever is left over goes to your heirs.
David: I like it,
Bill: Right? Because what happens is somebody's past, and if they don't tell the world how their assets are to be distributed, then the state will step in. So we'll take care of it for you and the state runs that process as officially as they do everything else. I don't know what it's like in Kansas but it's like the post office handles your estate when you die.
David: Got it.
Bill: And so there's procedures and fees that are ridiculous-
David: And you have to filed probate.
Bill: File probate, that's 374 dollars LA county, you have to publicize it. LA County cost 970 dollars just to advertise that you filed the probate which is crazy money. That's just to get started, right? So what happens is there's a defined process that you and some people- now again, I don't know Kansas law. In some- most states, a will does not avoid probate, in most states the will is adjudicated in probate court meaning the will is with a judge that's going to look at to interpret how to do a probate. You avoid probate in almost all states with a living trust, so kind of-
David: So if you have a living trust-
David: Again, we're speaking generalities here guys.
David: There may be areas that are carved out and that's not the point of this.
David: Generally speaking if you have a living trust, you do not need probate. Is that fair to say?
Bill: Yes, I would say-
David: Generally speaking.
Bill: Now, I'm not an attorney, I'm not giving legal advice.
David: Me either, of course.
Bill: It's procedure- as a professional, I can say I've seen it over and over again, occasionally in a living trust, there's arguments when they sign it, who signed it, here's a prior living trust-
David: There's gonna be that in anything though, right?
David: There's always going to be issues, right.
Bill: 90- what I tell people is that if you have a bad living trust, you're better off than 90% of people with no living trust. So I tell people get a cheap one online, easy-probate.com, there's for I think 300 individual and I think it's 500 for a family, maybe 600. Get it done, you can then take that to your real attorney and get a proper estate plan if you have multiple properties or maybe multiple family members, kids from a prior marriage, all that adds up in the state planning process and an attorney might charge you 3 thousand, 5 thousand, 10 thousand dollars for a larger complicated estate but if you at least have a living tr- at least have one, you avoid probate. That's the key to my book, at least get one.
David: Got it. No, that makes perfect sense. Okay, so guys to recap, probate, it's a- you file a lawsuit against yourself and then basically what's left over is what your heirs or your family going to get. Now, when you say against yourself, somebody else is filing this lawsuit or are you doing it? Because like in my wife situation, her dad was the owner.
David: He passed.
David: It was her and her two brothers. Her two brothers didn't know what to do so me and her stepped up and said, hey we're going to go get a probate attorney because there wasn't a will, there wasn't a living trust. I've bought and sold, you don't know this about me but I bought and sold 700 houses in the last 6 years.
David: I know a thing or two about buying and selling, I know a thing or two about wholesaling, I know a thing or two about BRRRR method and fix and flip and all these things. I don't know much about probate so of course the title company is who I called first and said, hey can I sell this thing?
David: And they were like, is there a living trust or a will? And I'm like what are those things? Of course I know what they were, I'm just joking but I'm like nope, we don't have any of those things and they're like, well you got to go to probate. So then of course I go to Facebook and I'm like who do I know that's a probate attorney? And a guy calls me and he's like, hey we went to college together, we're friends. Boom, you're hired, let's go, right? And that process- the entire process probably took nine months but we were able to sell the property in like 45 days basically, once we opened it and got that guidance, all right? So very cool.
Bill: Well you're very lucky because you got good advice, You got a good attorney, you're also in a state that's not complicated as California, Georgia, Florida, New York, way more structured so it kinda is a little easier, but even still, you can imagine, you had to file a probate and I don't know what it's like in Kansas but in LA, if you file it and you have the wrong information, you didn't notice all the errors, you don't notice all the creditors, they kick the paperwork back. It just drags on and on, not a problem now when the markets going up, but imagine being in a market where prices are dropping. What's it costing you to wait an extra month, two months, three months? It can cost you a lot of money.
David: I get it, makes perfect sense. Okay, so-
Bill: Yeah, covid, there are people who you know, they file then they use some stupid attorney who doesn't know what he's doing and it delayed the things 30 days, 60 days, boom, covid shuts down the court in LA for 6 months so you wait an extra 9 months because your attorney did fill up the paper correctly.
David: Man that's annoying. I get it. Okay, so we talked about what a trust is though so I just think the clarification really quick Bill. If the- my wife's, I'm gonna use this as an example because it's so close to my heart, right?
Bill: It's perfect.
David: My wife's dad passed away.
Bill: Happens all the time.
David: Her and her two brothers, so he didn't file a lawsuit against himself, so just-
Bill: No, I just use that as an analogy.
David: No I'm just trying to clarify the definition.
Bill: Right. I mean, I just think it's cute to say, your wife filed on behalf of him.
David: On behalf of him. Okay, got it. Okay, that makes sense.
Bill: And then what happens? Well he has to go to court and then anybody who files paperwork is kind of filing against the estate like, the people get paid first is the court then is the state and local governments, the federal government. In California, if you get medical care treatment at the end of life, they come back and pull that money out of your state and then whatever is left if there's anything left goes to the heirs, but you get- you're the last. The last people getting paid are the heirs.
David: Now if you have a living trust though, it doesn't seem to work that way at all, right?
Bill: Not at all, not at all. Cuz you're passing-
David: So it's like you'd be an idiot to own a house that has equity in it and not have a living trust.
Bill: You can't do that. You can't- if you have a house, if you have, in California, more than 167 thousand dollars in the bank or of bank securities. Now some accounts, you have beneficiaries like IRA's don't go to probate in California, they go to whomever you designate as a beneficiary. Life insurance doesn't go to probate in California you have a beneficiary. That's who gets the proceeds, but bank accounts or value of real estate or other personal property, you could have a gun collection, baseball cards worth $200,000 in California, you got to go to probate to resolve that.
David: Interesting. Okay, so we talked about what is probate, we kind of briefly talked about why, right?
David: But if you don't mind, why would somebody need probate? Now we talked about if they have a living trust then they'd wouldn't.
David: But if they don't have a living trust, then they're going to essentially need it to be able to sell and this is a real estate podcast so let's stick to real estate.
Bill: Right, sure.
David: Right? They're not gonna be able to sell that real estate, like their aunt's or their uncle's or their dad's or their mom's or their great great aunt or their grandparents, who whatever, right? Typically it's the heirs that are going to go to probate because they can't sell and this is what we faced, I couldn't sell a property in my wife's dad's name. I didn't own it, the title company wouldn't let me sell his property, right?
Bill: Correct, correct.
David: But the probate paperwork made it to where we could do so.
David: Is that why you would go to probate as to where you're able to basically sell something that doesn't own to you but you're in line I guess to get it or-
Bill: So I would say in your case, you were like a consumer who wanted- who inherited the property you wanted to sell it, right?
David: Well my wife was the heir of course.
Bill: Same thing, so she's the consumer and yes, but where I get- my business is not you and your wife's property, but imagine you're door-knocking, mailing, yellow letters, whatever you do to generate business and some guy owns a house. He calls you up says, hey, I got a house, I wanna sell it, I'll sell it for a hundred and you look at it wow, this is great, I'm going to buy it $100,000 cash, already closed and then the guy says to you well you know, the problem is it was actually my grandfather's house, my parents passed and I really own it but I'll sell it to you for a hundred thousand dollars, what do I do? That's a probate, and so the real money that I make, the more activity I do these days is not when somebody dies, the family- that's part of my business, glad to help but some investors who find leads and go I finally found a motivated seller because they don't want to live in the house, they're often out of state, you know, the mom and dad had the house, stayed in Kansas, kids moved to New York, moved to LA, moved to Atlanta or someplace and there's this house, they don't want it. Mom and dad live there, it's thrashed, it's got furniture 50 years old. They want to just sell it, you call them up, they're glad to sell it to you but now it has to go to probate, what do you do? That's where you call somebody who knows what to do and you just want the probate done quickly, efficiently, legally so that you sell the house. So that's normally more of a third-party investor who's going to help the customer so they can effectuate their investment sale.
David: Makes perfect sense. Would you ever use or would probate ever be needed in the event of something else? So this is kind of a hard question to even ask but I think you know where I'm going with this. So with death, that person owns it, they're dead. It sucks, this is life guys, it happens but like let's say somebody like goes to the- like gets in a car accident and like they're a vegetable now, or-
Bill: Right, right.
David: There's always other options, right?
David: Is probate something that would be utilized in these other situations or no?
Bill: So in the same court generally, what you're talking about is a conservatorship. Somebody who's not- doesn't have the capacity to make their own decisions, there's a-
David: Because they can't when they're dead.
David: It's obvious but there could be another scenario.
Bill: Now if they have a living trust, the living trust can say once a doctor advises that you're incapacitated, then the trustee has the opportunity to step in.
David: So even more reason to get a living trust.
Bill: Absolutely. Absolutely.
David: Even more reason, yeah.
Bill: And because people living longer and you might meet somebody who's 80 years old and one day they look fine then they start mental problems, now they can't make decisions for themselves. So that's an example, in other words, guardianships. God forbid parents pass and have minor children. Minor children can't make decisions legally on their own so you have to create what's called a guardianship, very expensive. Both those, conservatorships and guardianship's are very expensive to do. If you have kids, you- literally my daughter and son-in-law had our first grandchild last night. I sent him the paperwork to do his living trust because they need to have one now. God forbid something happens to both of them, we don't get to decide what happens to the grandchild, that's for them to decide if they have a living trust. Otherwise, we have to go to court and get the court to tell us and we'll spend $50,000 to find out. So that's a whole 'nother reason to have a living trust is to avoid medical issues like that, absolutely.
David: Man I love it. This is super helpful. You are filled with information and awesome knowledge so this is just really great Bill, so happy to have the opportunity to bring you on the show and again, thank you for your time. Okay, so we talked about the what, we talked about the why, is there a when? And also what's the difference between pre-probate and probate? The reason I ask is I don't know for one, but two, I see when I'm in like, you know, my lead generation sources so Propstream and BatchLeads are really where I hold the majority of my leads and they have like a pre-probate. I don't know what the hell that is, what is that?
Bill: So pre-probate means they've determined that somebody who lived in that house died and they cross reference it that person owned that property or owned other property.
Bill: So now, if they have a living trust, it's not going to be a probate so they screen out those that are living trusts. So now you have a person that seems to hold title that's not in a living trust and seems to own real estate. Now Propstream's great, I use pre-probates. There's another service I use probatesdaily.com does pre-probates. Same thing, same data source. Great source, it's not a hundred percent- none of these data sources are a hundred percent.
David: None of them are, yeah.
Bill: So I would say that they're great source, you know, you can't market them saying, hey Joe, I see that your father died, can I buy her house? Doesn't work that way, but in the course of your marketing, I think you might want to make sure, you know, [inaudible] investors I work with have different ways of screening multiple screens in their Propstream data and I would give more emphasis to somebody if I know the person who lived there died, I would get- maybe send them more postcards or more, you know, instead of once a month, every three weeks or instead of every two months, every six weeks or something like that, because I know there's somebody there who probably died, owned the property, at some point they're going to sell it whether it's a probate or not. Now when it's a pre-probate and you talk to them and they say to you well yeah my dad died but it's title in his name, we have to go to probate. That's where I connect with investors and say let me help you expedite that process, cut your cost, speed up the time period through and hopefully earn the homeowner or the state because they can't sign a contract that's binding to purchase the property typically because they don't own it yet, but if you help them through the probate process, then they kind of owe you in a sense so they're more likely to go along with the program. So that's where investors I work with work pre-probates as a 'nother layer in the marketing program.
David: Love it. Okay.
Bill: More complicated answer but that's the ones I make money at it-
David: No, no, that makes perfect sense because I didn't really understand what that was. Okay, so let's simplify though. When would somebody need probate?
Bill: Anytime the owner of the property has died and the deed doesn't transfer ownership. So for example, husband wife, generally speaking, husband dies, it goes to the wife automatically, right? But other than those- or the deed in California, say-
David: Now does it always go to the wife though? What if she's not on title?
Bill: Well, that's different. Now that's a legal question based on what state you're in-
David: Again, we're not going down that. Typically it's going to transfer-
Bill: Right. Did they own it before they married? That's a whole-
David: No problem, I'm not here to be difficult, I'm just-
Bill: Right, right.
David: Just curious, of course.
Bill: That's a little more complicated but again, those are things where you want to- you want them calling. I think you want as an investor and you talked to that owner, you want them calling you asking that question. Once they talk to their local realtor, you lost the deal, right? So I want them calling me to ask those questions and I'll work with the title company to find out- or the attorneys to help them solve those problems. I would- your title problem is my opportunity. So I would say those are great questions that you want people and you can learn they're all a little different, but generally speaking, some deeds transfer title like if I bought it with my friend in California, we could buy it as tenants and- I mean, they're both separate. When I die, it goes to my estate, whatever that means and then when you die, it goes to yours versus joint tenants means if either one of us dies, it passes between us like we're almost the same as a married couple. So it depends on how the deed reads and different states have different rules on that but generally speaking, if somebody passes and they're not in title then- there's nobody else on title, then you got to probate it to figure out which is why you go to the court to give them the authority to change title so somebody can sell the property.
David: Love it. Okay, talked about the what, talked about the why, we talked about the when. The how, that's where you come in, right?
Bill: Yeah. I mean, I think that generally you need to have a team of people and advisers, title rep is great in your marketplace because your selling- if you're doing a property in Kansas, the Kansas laws are maybe not that different but they're specific to Kansas. You want a great title rep who knows the probate stuff that doesn't just give you coffee cups or pens or takes you to ballgame, but somebody who really knows the title business I would say is one of the key resources. I use those vendors, easy probe- easy-probate.com for my probate business to refer people to get the probate going and things like that and then probate attorneys, I bring them some business and they bring me some business so you want to have a team of people in real estate and this is just some additional members on your team that you might want. That said, I work with a national real estate company, I know people all over the country, I know title reps all over the country. If you don't have anybody if your listener, call me, text me, email me. I'm glad to try to help.
David: I love it. Okay, that was the next thing is how- so it sounds like you are- you're a wealth of knowledge. You're filled with this. Do you have a business out of this or what?
Bill: Well, I'm a real estate broker, I sell homes in LA county. Myself and my team, we work Southern California, Orange, San Bernardino Riverside and San Diego counties and then I have a bigger team that I've started to build out nationally in Florida, Georgia, New York and we're adding other states and localities, and I know people in other states as well. I do a national podcast probateweekly.com and then with my company, I do a probate group meeting nationally [inaudible] 60,000 agents in the US so I can find something in almost any locality so if you have a problem, call me, no charge. You don't have to pay me. I love it. I love helping the- I love solving these little knots and problems and often times I can help you find somebody that can help you finish the job.
David: I love it. Bill since you're offering, I'm going to take you up on it. What's your contact phone and email? Let me put it in the show notes.
Bill: Sure, so my website is thelaprobateexpert.com, t-h-e-l-a-probateexpert.com. My phone number 310210000-
David: Hold on, you're going too fast for me. Website is thelaprobateexpert.com guys.
Bill: .com, uhuh.
David: Check that out, it's going to be in the show notes. If you're driving your car right now, this is going to be a podcast, it's- we also do it on YouTube guys, so it'll be down in the show notes. thelaprobateexpert.com is going to be the website, the phone number is 310-
Bill: -2100008. 3102100008.
David: Okay, got it.
Bill: And if you want to get into the system, good place to start is probateweekly.com. I do a call every Thursday 4 p.m. Pacific Time, 7 p.m. Eastern time and we record it, we send out a link to YouTube. Bring your questions on, I have people call me from all over the country with different questions and often have to get attorneys from other states. I had one this week from Orange County, had somebody last month from Florida, I had somebody from New York, so we'll get people from different states. I have a network of attorneys I'm trying to build out to help people. I want to be the resource where people go to get those questions answered.
David: Man, I love it. Do you have an e-mail or do you want me to just push people to the website?
Bill: [email protected] Just Bill, B-I-L-L @thelaprobateexpert.com.
David: Man, I'm making my notes here. Probate expert is singular, not experts, right? I
Bill: I'm it. Yes.
David: Okay, you are the- you are the expert. I love it.
Bill: Well, you know, and I try to be humble about it and there's an area that I feel I am the expert in but it's really about- expertise is not about location or destination, it's really about a process so I have to say I work at it every day. I buy the probate code book and update it every year. I watch every podcast I can find on the subject. I've taken every certification I can find on it. I read about it all the time so it's something I try to work at and grow at every day.
David: So let me ask you this Bill, are you utilizing probates to get listings? Are you utilizing probates to get off market direct to seller wholesale type deals? Do you use probates for fix and flips or I guess your people that you work with and team does?
David: And/or rentals? I mean, it's essentially just another great tool to find properties. Not even- not necessarily always discounted.
David: But in some cases, greatly discounted, right?
Bill: Yes, some occasionally, like everything else. You have to find a way to grind out a living on day to day deals and once in a while you get a home run. I had two home runs this year, I had two home runs last year so yeah, that's those are good too.
David: What's a homerun? How do you define that? Just curious.
Bill: For me, $50,000 in a deal is a homerun.
David: That's a home run. Yeah, agreed.
Bill: I don't- I'm not a fix and flip guy, I'm just a lipstick flip guy. Personally, I just don't like fixing things.
Bill: I have customers that do that and I try to feed them those deals but if I find a property that I could just trash it out, send a cleaning crew and make it smell nice, take pictures and put it back in the market and make a profit, that's my deal that I'm stepping in by myself.
David: So Bill, what did- and I'm not in a hurry, we got you know, 10, 15 minutes, of course still here, but what'd I miss? I mean we talked a lot about the when, the how, the why, the what. You are obviously the expert, I have never talked to anybody that knows as much about this as you. So guys if you're listening, you're watching and you have a probate and you know, have a question, Bill has graciously generously offered to help and assist, so reach out to him in the show notes below, you'll have his website, his phone and his email. Just to recap thelaprobateexpert.com, 3102100008 or [email protected] So Bill, what are some of the things that you know, other people may have asked that I didn't or you know, what's some of the stuff that people should maybe be aware of, you know, you know this stuff inside and out.
Bill: Well, I think the first thing is people ask me where to get the data from, right? How do I- how do I start and what do I do? And I think you know, marketing has to be genuine to you and authentic. You need to think that through. So for me, I'm not an attorney, my parents wanted me to be an attorney, my father was an attorney but I was around insurance a lot. I worked at a law firm as an intern in high school and college so I knew the business of law and I kind of liked going to court. I mean I find it fun to put on a suit and tie and go to court and hang out. It's kind of like dressing up, I don't know, I enjoy it.
Bill: Most people don't. So don't do it if you don't enjoy it. I like it.
David: Yeah, so do you find yourself in court often?
Bill: Pre-covid, I was there every day.
David: Okay, wow.
Bill: So pre-covid, every day I would show up, court started 8:30, I was there at 7:45 in a suit with a cup of coffee right in the main area. If you walked into probate court, you're walking right by me farming for people- talking to people every day about probate, investors, wholesalers, families.
David: Holy cow, I have never- this is my favorite part of the podcast because I always learn something new, right? But when I get to learn something really new and fun and cool, I get excited. So I just learned something way cool. You can actually utilize the court and the process to meet the sellers or the owners, right? Essentially.
Bill: Yes, yes, yes.
David: Wow, that's- that is a huge gold nugget right there.
Bill: Yeah, as like a farm.
David: So you do that, you go down to the courthouse.
David: Typically, and we're not even going to talk pre or post covid, this is- act like you know.
David: Because things are going to change and it's going to be so random with your- with the state and the city and the county and I don't even wanna go down that road, but you can actually go to the courthouse.
Bill: So think about it, how many investors do you know, and I know a lot, that door knock every day, right? They have a goal.
David: Absolutely, I know tons of people driving for dollars, door knocking.
Bill: Driving for dollars, that was the other one, right. So they drive or they door knock and they're looking for people. I could- so what I figured out was I could sit there, have a cup of coffee, it's air-conditioned, it's perfectly safe, the courthouse got security, they have sheriffs everywhere, it's the safest place in LA and they walk right by me. I mean, it was kind of like being invited into a sorority house when I was in college, you mean I can just sit in the sorority house and watch girls walk by and hit up on whoever I want? That was really how I realized the court was for me. Now, I don't know if I all I ever did was crowd-
David: I still like doing that by the way hahaha.
Bill: Well, I'm married so.
David: I'm just kidding.
Bill: My wife's going to hear me, I can't really talk.
David: Neither here nor there, but no you're right, you're in the court. You're in the court, that's awesome.
Bill: Everybody walking by was an attorney or an estate or an investor, you know, so it was like- it was just too good. I mean, it was just that- and I don't think anybody teaches to do that, you know? Now my coach, there's a great company that coaches investors and realtors on how to get business in probate, alltheleads.com, and the head coach was Chad Corbett and so he challenged, when I took the class four years ago, go to court and learn how it works. So I went there day one and I looked around and I said Jesus, there's a lot of money walking around here and nobody else is doing it like, now it costs 20 bucks to park your car for the day. Okay, I get it.
David: Now that's going to depend on the county and the courthouse and the city.
Bill: Yes. Yeah, exactly.
David: Yeah like me, no way. I'm going to find a free spot because I know where my courthouse is at but yeah, regardless, regardless.
Bill: Whatever. If you're gonna go in, you got to work. If you want to market to attorneys, you got to look like an attorney. You gotta wear a suit and tie in LA, I don't know what it's like in Kansas but okay fine, most of you won't do that.
David: That was my next question. Are you marketing to attorneys? Are you marketing to homeowners?
Bill: Yes, yes and yes.
David: Got it.
Bill: So my strategy was hit the same target from three or four different angles. So if I talk to the attorney and I'm talking the homeowner, and the homeowner says well our attorney is Joe Smith, let's find Joe Smith in court this week. So it kind of lowered the barriers and if I said Joe Smith, hey attorney Joe Smith, I was talking to your clients, the Jones', about the property in Rosemead. Wow, you really do know this stuff. So the more- I found the more angles of attack on the same bar, same homeowners so just like in marketing, you know, you mail, you social media, you email, you phone call, you door knock, the same list. You don't hit them all differently. You let the same person see you from five angles and then the attorney's like oh my God, you're everywhere. Well I'm not everywhere, I'm just coordinated around you effectively, that's all.
David: Makes perfect sense, wow. So we've bought in the past, we've purchased I think is a better way to word that.
Bill: That's English.
David: Yeah, that's English, right. We've purchased lots of houses from people going through probate or they had just recently finished the process.
David: And we're typically able to get a pretty damn good deal on those properties.
David: So guys, if you are listening, this is an awesome way to generate leads. If you're an agent, same thing, you could generate the listings, right?
Bill: Right right.
David: Ideally, you're an investor because you can make more money doing that in my opinion and that's going to be relative of course. Also, it's just going to come with you know, pros and cons to both of those of course too. But regardless of what you are, you can turn these into listings, turn these into leads, turn them into wholesale, turn them into fix and flips, turn them into rentals, turn them into creative financing situations. There are so many different options and exits you can do in real estate. We talk about a lot of those on this podcast here Bill so that is really, really awesome. So wow, I had never heard of somebody just like showing up to the courthouse, so you make this a daily routine essentially.
Bill: 5 days a week. I was-
David: How long were you there for? Is it just an hour or two, or are you there all day?
Bill: So again, it's the largest probate court in America so this is a little different than other markets and I was five days a week there. So I would be there at 7:45, took me about 25 minutes to drive there and I would stay, my minimum was to 10:30.
Bill: So, I tried to see a sale minimum every day, and sometimes I'd see two or three so I would- I saw more court sales in the last two and a half years than any judge, than any attorney, then any agent.
David: Hahaha cuz you're seeing them all, right.
Bill: And people say well you can't do that, it's- the law says you can't but I know I saw judge so-and-so do it and here's why and here's how he did it. And so I'm actually advising attorneys on how they could file the papers to get approved.
Bill: With covid for example, allow them to expedite certain things that we knew with the file. What's that worth to an attorney? Right? They can't pay for that service [inaudible]-
David: Especially these guys that don't know this in and out and they're doing like you said in the beginning of this show, like you know, they're like, you know, maybe they're a personal injury attorney or like maybe they're a criminal attorney and then they like get a person- and then they get a probate and they're like well hell we're going to take the money of course. We don't know the first damn thing about it, they can call Bill, Bill knows. Wow, that's really cool.
Bill: Right, right, right, right. And then I learned how to address the court when I bid, how to talk to the judge, you know, you always your honor this, your honor that, you stand up when you talk to them, that kind of thing. So that the judge- the attorney see me and I'm not going to embarrass him, I'm like part of their team so it's just natural if they're going to work with an agent, why would they not work with somebody that knows what they're doing?
David: Love it.
Bill: And same with investors. There's investors who rip them off and they can't stand but occasionally there's an investor who they see regular and they know this guy knows the game and he plays by the rules and if he makes an offer, let's try to find a way to work with them.
David: I love it. So approaching the attorneys is really easy for you because you know more than most of these guys which is crazy but awesome at the same time. Let's talk a little bit, just for a minute about, you know, how do you approach the owner, the seller? Because they may be mourning, they may- like you know, I get a lot of people that you know, ask what do I do when I'm cold calling? Or how do I send that direct mail piece? and I'm like, just don't act like you know anything at all about the probate, just act like you're interested in the property, you know, that's typically a good way to kind of at least avoid it, but you may have some tips and tricks on ways to approach these people that I don't know.
Bill: So again, I would direct, you know, I'm not affiliated with them in any way but I would direct them to alltheleads.com has some great training scripts, what to say for free online. You could buy the data if you want as well. They have coaching as well but for free, they do a role play once a week and they have a mastermind thing that's free as well.
Bill: allleads.com. Great resource for anybody who wants to learn how to do this business. That's been my coaching product. What I would say is when they file a probate, they're not in mourning anymore, right? They- at some point they said hey let's- it's time to get rid of this house, what do we have to do? Oh my God, we could do all that? Fine, let's get started and they fill up the paperwork or they hire their attorney. So I wouldn't worry about it and I would just reference the probate, I wouldn't reference the person who passed, so I would just, I wouldn't even talk about somebody died or I'm sorry for your loss, don't even go there unless they bring it up and start crying.
David: I don't, yeah I don't.
Bill: Hey you follow- I see you follow probate. Looks like you have 123 Main Street is where the properties are probate. I'm a real estate broker, I help the estates like yours get top dollar, are you looking for quick cash sale? Are you looking to put the property in your retail market? How can I help you? How can I be of service?
David: Right. So simple, just don't overthink it, just be a human.
Bill: As an investor, just hey I see you on the market, would you be interested in an all-cash offer, close quickly in ten days once you have your paperwork. I can maybe help you through the probate process, we get stuck on that.
Bill: And you always want to ask the question, what's the biggest challenge you've had so far with probate? They're going to tell you oh my God, the paperwork.
David: It's the paperwork or it's the attorney or it's the driving 4 hours to the courthouse or whatever that problem is and then just help them with that, yeah. sales 101, figure out what they're looking to buy and sell it to them, right.
Bill: About 70% hate the attorney. 70% hate the attorney after they hire them because- it's not the attorney's fault, it's just the process is just difficult. It's like going to post office, whenever they may go to post office and go I love that post employee, they were the greatest. Never happens, right? So that's what probate is, it's just the same process.
David: Man I absolutely love it. Guys, you heard it from the man, the myth, the legend himself, Mr. Bill Gross. Bill is out of LA and he is truly the LA probate expert. I love it. Bill, I know I've learned a ton on this episode and again, I'm super happy and grateful that we got the opportunity to connect and record an episode about this today because again, we haven't done a lot of probate stuff on the podcast. We do a little bit in our business but you know, we haven't really been that vocal about it and at the end of the day, probate is a normal thing. It's- I don't want to say natural but- because death is natural, right? But the process of what happens behind that assuming they don't have a living- what was it? A living trust?
David: Assuming they don't have a living trust, you know, 99 times out of 100, they're going to probably have to go through this probate process if you as the heir you know, want to be able to sell the particular property or whatever it may be, so very cool.
Bill: And they wanna sell the house.
David: They wanna sell the house., right.
Bill: The [inaudible] gone so they generally wanna sell the property, whatever it is.
David: I love it. Bill, thank you again. Any parting words like you know, anything you want to add before we wrap up?
Bill: The only thing I'd say is I don't want to make it sound easy. I think often times people say oh probate's an easy way to get business.
David: Thank you for that.
Bill: No, there's no easy way. I work hard five and a half days a week. Every workday, I put my effort in and I'm consistent about it, but I'll say this like anything else if you make it your specialty, make it your focus, you work at it consistently, over time you can make more money than you ever dreamed of for sure.
David: I know where I'm gonna be whenever I have a free morning to kill some time. I'm gonna jump down to the courthouse, find the probate court, get familiar with it.
Bill: Let me know. I love hearing experiences because every court's different. If you know how it works, you've got some magic info that's worth a lot of money I'm telling you.
David: Yeah, it sounds like it.
Bill: Nobody's ever told me it was a waste of time. I've never heard that, it's always oh my God, I saw the judge and the person fills the paper, the judge signs it right on the spot which we don't do in LA.
David: Every probate deal we've ever bought, we've done two to three times the profit typically on those deals versus any of the other deals that we're doing.
Bill: There you go. How many of those you want? How many would you like?
David: They're usually really good deals to get. There are few and far between but then again, I'm not marketing to them.
Bill: There you go.
David: I stumble across them, you know, but if I start marking to them and find these people, networking with the probate attorneys, you know Bill does this in his sleep but to any of us that are listening or watching, like you don't even necessarily have to go to the courthouse, although that's a great place to meet them. You know, we've had a little bit of success in the past sending mailers to probate attorneys, you know, or maybe even showing up at their office and handing them a card and shaking their hand, but you know, what better place to cross paths with all of these guys on a consistent basis than at the actual courthouse, I love it. All right-
Bill: Hold on. I mean if I can jump in with one thing, one minute.
David: Yeah yeah, please please.
Bill: The obvious thing is the ones you closed all have attorneys, did you ever take them out to lunch?
David: No, never no no.
Bill: And to that person, you're an expert. You close successfully, right? So I think the thing we have to always start with is people we already know and I would say to investors, go through your index, find the probates you did do, find who the attorney was, say hey, I'd like to do more probates, where do you think I could find them? Do you get any of those I can make cash offer on? Start- you can mail out to people cold or you can talk to people you already know. Start the ones you already know.
David: I love it. Bill, you have been a wealth of knowledge today.
Bill: Thanks man.
David: Again, thanks for coming on the show. Guys don't forget, you make your money when you buy, you get paid when you sell in this business.
Bill: I like that.
David: So figure out how to buy right and you can reduce almost all if not all of your risk when you buy a property right. Probate is one of the many ways to find deals and Bill just laid it all out for you guys, alright? So I'm in the show notes. We'll have all the notes that I took across this podcast along with Bill's contact information. Bill, thanks again for coming on.
Bill: Thank you.
David: And we are signing off. Until next time guys, we will talk to you then. Thanks.
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