Everyone Focuses on Being a Landlord, When You Can Be a Lienlord
The definition of landlord is “a person who owns a building or an area of land and is paid by other people for use of it”.
When a person chooses to invest in the real estate market, a common income stream is to become a landlord. Generally, the real estate market is a stable and profitable income source. When the economy is on an incline, the profit margin can produce 10-15% ROI. You can usually expect to receive both passive income on a monthly basis with renters while acquiring equity in the home. On paper, this sounds like a win-win scenario.
However, as a landlord you have a lot of responsibility.
You are legally bound to providing a healthy living environment for your renters, you are required to have your property insured, you take the late-night phone calls that the water heater is broken, you communicate with the tenant as to why they were unable to pay utilities that month, etc.
What if we told you, you don’t have to be a landlord to receive the benefits of a landlord?
Let us explain.
The term “lienlord” refers to a person who owns a mortgage note and that debt is paid by the borrower (or homeowner). When a homeowner doesn’t make their payment for a duration of time, the mortgage gets sold from the bank to an investment company, such as Revolve Capital Group. We receive our assets directly from Top Tier 1 banks. When an investor (like yourself) purchases the note from us, the investor now becomes the “leinlord” (or the “bank”).
As the lienlord, you can benefit from owning the mortgages via the bank without having to be responsible for property repairs/maintenance, property taxes, legal-renter responsibilities, property taxes or renter issues that come into fruition with traditional real estate investment routes like buying rentals or buying fix-and-flips.
Put yourself in the position of a homeowner. You take a mortgage out from Wells Fargo, for example, and you go purchase a house. Hypothetically, if your water heater breaks in the middle of the night would you call Wells Fargo to fix the water heater? Typically, no. The reason for that is the responsiblity of taking care of your home lies on you as the homeowner.
Let’s apply that same principle to being a lienlord vs a landlord. As a landlord, it is your responsibility to fix the water heater. As a lienlord, you are acting as the “Wells Fargo” and you don’t take those calls. Essentially, the lienlord is the bank -and- when you purchase the housing note, you become the bank. You would become the “Wells Fargo” and you (similar to the “landlord”) can continue receiving passive income coming in from the homeowner every month, and when you’re ready you can still sell the note to another note buyer. As a note owner, you also have the option to do other types of exit strategies or creative financing options.
With being a landlord comes endless levels of responsibility to accommodate renters. There is an implied warranty of habitability, which ensures the renters live in a safe, healthy and clean environment. Health and building codes must be followed, safety features need to be maintained regularly. The responsibilities trickle down even to proper handling of abandoned property. In the event the tenant must vacate the property, if they leave items in the rental they have to be properly stored, the tenants must be notified of where to pick up their belongings. Your main focus needs to be how to recoup and refill that vacant rental if you haven’t received rent for that property in a number of months and instead you are having to worry about the abandoned property from the previous tenant. Similar to property repairs/maintenance, when you’re the leinlord you are now the bank. Chase Bank, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, the bank that owns the mortgage to your home is not legally responsible for traditional landlord-tenant laws. When you “become the bank”, you collect the monthly payment while removing yourself from being legally obligated to maintaining a habitable environment, health/building codes, safety features, abandoned property, etc.
You are also financially responsible for property taxes. If you have 10 or 15 rentals, you have to pay taxes on all those properties even if the renter stops paying. According to SmartAsset.com, “the national average property taxes are 1.211% of Assessed Home Value, averaging at $3,028”. If the condition of the rental property is average or below average, you are potentially using your profits to make repairs on the home, then to add yet another financial responsibility, such as property taxes, can reduce your profit margin even further.
Control of Terms and Interest Rates
As a leinlord, if you feel the terms of your agreement with the homeowner (the borrower) are unfavorable, you can control the terms and change them as you see fit.
If the homeowner was originally financed at (for example) 4.5%, and they stop paying on their home for 12 months, and the bank then sells the now non-performing note off to a company, like Revolve Capital Group. We will then sell that note to an investor (like yourself), and let’s say you turn that note into a re-performer. Because you own the note, and because you are now the leinlord (you are now “the bank”), you have the power to renegotiate the deal. You have the power to renegotiate any part of the contract you would like.
For example, you can change…
– The term
– The duration, how long the loan is going to be valid for
– The interest rate
– The monthly payments
– Is it going to be a potential balloon payment?
– Will you advertise the payments over a 15-year time frame, then after 15 years require the rest of the balance be paid at once?
So long as you are within the legal limits and not conducting unethical practices like predatory lending, you have the power to do so. If you plan on changing terms, make sure to research usury laws so you know the maximum amount of interest that can be levied.
There is not only 1 term that can change when you take ownership of a note, but you can also change anything you deem necessary because you are now the bank.
To remove another layer of responsibility, you can choose to completely remove yourself from the decision making process. If you’re used to this type of real estate investing, you understand what it’s like being in the position of the landlord receiving a call from the tenants that the wife got sick and the husband lost his job. Now you are in the position to decide if you will let them continue to not pay for the next 3 or 4 months rent. There is a huge emotional tie to being a landlord. However, working with a vendor/servicer, you have the benefit of choosing to remove yourself from personally having to deal with these issues when they arise.
Vendors / Servicer Utilization
We have a network of nationwide vendors who can be as involved or as uninvolved as you direct them. The vendor will go through a process we call KYC (know-your-customer), which is a “know your client” type of process where they will find out what you’re looking for in a vendor and what expectations you have for your assets. For example, if you own a non-performing note and the homeowner starts paying, the non-performing note would turn into a re-performing note. These vendors will handle that entire process with your instruction. Another example would be if the homeowner is asking for a reduction in their interest rate, let’s say there were paying 8% and now they’re wanting 4%. The vendor will come back to you as the leinlord, request your approval or denial, and continue according to your instruction. You are able to take a step back, allow the vendors/servicers to take over some or all of the management, and you can focus your energy, time, and resources on other aspects such as growing your investments. The secret to the buying notes and which investment company you choose to utilize is within their network of vendors.
The traditional real estate world generally pushes one of two exit strategies:
1. You purchase a run-down property, rehab that home, decorate it high end, and sell for a large markup.
2. You maneuver into a long-term cashflow by purchasing a decent property, find occupants, and you will become the landlord.
By taking the alternative approach to investing you can become the actual lienholder to that same property. Ultimately, you can make the decision if you don’t want to take the late-night “landlord” phone call, because you prefer to take calls during business hours. Being a leinlord allows you to take on investments that you can own for the next 30 years while the homeowner continually makes payments, but all the property condition concerns fall on the shoulders of the homeowner.
There are many downfalls to becoming a traditional landlord. Choosing to become a landlord comes with a lot of responsibility… this includes general property repairs/maintenance, legal responsibilities, property taxes and emotional investments. When you make the decision to become a lienlord you reap the benefits of being a landlord without the same negative drawbacks. Because you are now “the bank” you can control the terms and interest rates, and by utilizing our national list of vendors/servicers you can remove yourself from the majority of those responsibilities and you can focus on your monthly passive income.