In the Path of a Storm

Alert: Harvey, Irma, Rita, Katrina

Don’t worry, it is not hurricane season yet. However, there are things you need to know now, before the storms approach.

I was just looking at reasons a real-estate investor might lose money on a fix-n-flip project or a vacation rental property deal and stumbled upon natural disasters as a possible cause of investment loss. After reading several articles and searching the real estate websites, I ran into tips for real estate investors facing an approaching natural disaster at, Your Virtual Real Estate Coach. Be sure to visit Ryan’s site if you have a minute.

Insurance Binding
First, as a practical matter, it is very important to know that insurance companies will not bind a new policy or add additional coverage to an existing policy if a hurricane or large storm is headed for Texas. This is important for you to know if you are planning to invest in a property in Texas.

Make sure a hurricane is not on its way. Buy insurance that covers flood and wind damage and replacement costs, and don’t buy the property or the insurance if you can’t bind an insurance policy. Both you and your lender will want insurance on the property. Buy flood and wind insurance on your new property and make sure insurance binders are active well before the next storm.

Closings Disrupted
Second, when you have found a buyer and a storm is approaching, time the closing of the deal so that closing is complete well before the storm event. The storm can get in the way of your closing in so many ways. Following a storm, roads and properties may be damaged and inaccessible. Even if you are dry, routes in and out of your area might be blocked or flooded. You could lose your buyer because they cannot get to you or to the property, or because the property is damaged.

A study performed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas concludes that the “typical hurricane raises real house prices and, to a lesser extent, reduces real incomes for a few years.”

New Business Opportunity 5 Years Out
Third, be ready for new business opportunities following a storm. Damaging natural disasters and the insurance money that comes into the market after they pass can create new opportunities for real estate investors. Some property owners may want to sell, particularly if they did not have insurance. Even if they are insured, many home owners will take their insurance check and sell the property for whatever they can get. Some lots are sold at land value after the home was removed; but once a house is rebuilt, it can be resold again at near the same price in future years (about 5 years).

aerial view atmosphere clouds cold front

Residential Prices Rise Because Housing is Needed
The value of property that is high and dry after a hurricane will increase because homes are lost or uninhabitable. Housing will be needed. And, buyers and investors will be seeking solutions.

An article in Forbes by Jordan Lulich points out that right after a storm, home sales go down because property owners are too busy cleaning up. According to his article, two months after Hurricane Harvey, 31% of residential neighborhoods saw an increase in median house prices here in Texas.

It is still smart to invest in real estate in hurricane prone areas because residential property values increase over time. Repair costs associated with storms are certainly worrisome. Just be sure to buy insurance that covers wind and water damage to protect your asset.

Please give me a call when you find that perfect investment, and I can help you fund the project.

Patrick St.Cin


Ryan Kuhlman, January 8, 2018, Natural Disasters and Real Estate Investing,

Jordan Lulich, June 28, 2018, Does Hurricane Damage Negatively Impact Your Real Estate Value/

Murphy, Anthony and Stroble, Eric, October 2010, The Impact of Hurricanes on Housing Prices: Evidence from US Coastal Cities. Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Research Department, Working Paper 1009,


4 Most Common Mistakes that Slow Down the Loan Process

Getting a property financed can be an overwhelming process. Sometimes borrowers don’t recognize the bumps in the road that will derail their project plans and loan schedule. Here is a list to help you see and remember the small, but important, details involved in getting a loan. These are the most common time sucking land mines that drag the loan process out (or even cause disqualification) along with tips to avoid them.

  1. Scheduling & Anticipating the Appraisal

Loans officially start when they are put into processing, which does not happen until appraisal reports are turned in or the application fee is paid. A loan will be delayed if there is an issue getting the appraisal. Sometimes a borrower will schedule an appraisal when the property is not available or repairs/rehab are incomplete. For example, someone may live in or on the property and will not allow the appraiser access to the property. The loan will be delayed if this happens. If the appraiser arrives and finds the home in the midst of rehab, the loan will also be delayed.

Another bump in the road related to the appraisal occurs when the value of the property is based on too little research. This usually leads to an inflated initial value. If the appraisal comes in lower than what the borrower expected, this will delay the loan process and can even halt it altogether.

Key: Be ready, careful, and deliberate about scheduling the appraisal. Coordinate with the current occupants and your contractor.

Key: Be really accurate from the start about the value of the property.

  1. Documentation

Procrastination, my favorite strategy, does not help when it comes to loan documentation; like taxes and even more than hearing protection, documentation is required. It is a terrible idea to wait to start gathering the documents necessary to move the loan process along until the appraisal comes in. Start by making a list of the documents you need as soon as you come up with your project and begin immediately, while the idea is hot, to gather them and check them off your list. Your goal is to have them ready as soon as your loan goes into processing.

Key: Gather the necessary documents when your idea is hot.


  1. Hazard: Wrong Policy Type or Amount

You might not think of hazard insurance in connection with your loan but obtaining hazard insurance is a very important component to securing a loan. Carefully study the types of coverage available and don’t just buy a policy to say you have it. Buy hazard insurance that covers 100% of the replacement cost of the property and calculate the premium carefully. Often the wrong type or amount of coverage is purchased, which will not only slow the loan down but can also potentially change your loan parameters (up to and including disqualification).

Key: Know your numbers. Buy hazard insurance that covers 100% of the replacement cost of your property

  1. Title Clouds

Liens, judgments, delinquent taxes, and mortgage releases are all common things that show up on a title. These things take time to clean up and drag the loan process out. Be sure to check your title for these attachments before you start your loan. If you have any clouds on the title, you’ll want to clean them up asap to keep your loan on schedule.

Key: Start early, Clean up the title ASAP.

Patience may be a virtue, but it is one that is often tested when you are eager to close a loan and get on with your project. To save your dream and your nerves, follow these tips: coordinate the appraisal, be accurate on the value, gather the necessary documents, buy the right insurance, and clean up that title.

I would be pleased to give you a hand, and I have funds available for lending.


Austin, Texas


Photo credit: Niklas Bildhauer CC BY-SA 2.0 (

How to Close Your Visio Loan Fast

Attention. Today, it is hard to focus the laser beam of our mind onto what is pivotal. Our mind certainly can be a laser beam, but too often it flickers, back and forth from one thing to another like a match in a wind storm. If time is money, attention is gold, and a sense of urgency can be your friend when you are interested in borrowing money to start your rental or vacation rental business.

My goal here is to help you sort out what Visio needs to know, what is pivotal in the process of financing an investment property, one that you want to buy and hold onto as an investment. By focusing on these critical areas, you can speed up and simplify the process of getting your loan Visio loan closed.

Pivot 1. Property Value beyond the Appraisal

Talk to your local realtor and do your own research to determine the comparable value of your property. Appraisals provide us with helpful indications of value, but we also rely heavily on our own research and analysis. Please let us know if you’ve made improvements to the home, detailing what has been done and the amounts invested.

Please let us know if you’ve made improvements to the home.

Pivot 2. Property Condition

Appraisers rate property condition using a scale of C1 (New) to C6 (Complete Redevelopment). We only lend on rent-ready properties (C1–C4). ALL repairs and rehab should be completed PRIOR to starting a loan with Visio. While we sometimes finance properties requiring some minor redevelopment, we make these decisions on a case-by-case basis. If you are concerned that your property may need too much work to qualify, send us some current pictures before ordering the appraisal.

We only lend on rent-ready properties (C1–C4).



Pivot 3. Recent Transactions

If the home has changed hands in rapid succession with significant increases in value, we need to know ahead of time. We need to understand the reasons behind the increase in value before making the loan. Finding out late in the transaction almost always causes problems.

We need to understand the reasons behind the increase in value before making the loan.

Pivot 4. Non-Arm-Length Transactions

A non-arms-length transaction involves a buyer and seller that have a pre-existing business, personal, or familial relationship. We will make these loans, but we want to know up front. Visio is not a consumer mortgage lender, and therefore cannot allow family of the borrower to remain in the property.

Visio is not a consumer mortgage lender, and therefore cannot allow family of the borrower to remain in the property.

Pivot 5. Fees

Our Account Executives will provide you with a detailed fee worksheet showing all our fees well in advance of closing. Please read the fee worksheet. It is not in anyone’s interests to have a deal fall apart at the closing table over fees.

Please read the fee worksheet.

Pivot 6. Title

If you are refinancing with Visio please give careful thought to any liens, judgments, or delinquent property taxes on the property. These will come up during the title phase, and they not only take time to clean-up but could also result in disqualification. If you’re buying a property, we require a clean title to close. Items such as releases of old mortgages or the existence of ground rents/land leases, which are common in some areas (MD), can take substantial time and effort to address.

We require a clean title to close.

Pivot 7. Borrower Name(s)

If you are refinancing with Visio, please consider whether there is anyone else on the title with you. That person will need to be available to sign documents. In addition, we will title the property the way it comes to us. If you are attempting to remove anyone from or add anyone to title, please resolve this prior to starting a loan with Visio (see “Borrowing in an Entity” below for exceptions). For purchases, if you are buying from a government agency, such as HUD, execute the purchase contract in the exact name in which you intend to hold the title. They are not very flexible about changing names mid-transaction.

Execute the purchase contract in the exact name in which you intend to hold the title.

Pivot 8. Investor Insurance

Research and choose your insurance product EARLY. It likely will take longer than you think. Consider the cost as well. If your premium is proven to be more expensive than you are estimating, it could potentially change your loan parameters, up to, and including disqualification. Accurate escrow estimation is paramount to an accurate quote from Visio. Please note, we require hazard insurance to have 100% replacement cost. We do not allow actual cash value policies.

We require hazard insurance to have 100% replacement cost.

Pivot 9. Borrowing in an Entity

We lend to entities, such as corporations, LLCs, and partnerships. Please make sure your entity is fully established and is in good standing. We’ll need all the documents to complete your loan. If you are attempting to change the titled entity, we can accommodate if the ownership interest is identical between both entities. (See “Borrower Name” above.) We do NOT lend to trusts nor non-profit corporations.

We do NOT lend to trusts nor non-profit corporations.  

Pivot 10. Sense of Urgency

Time and attention is always of the essence. Thoroughly read emails and respond to communication from your account executive and processor. We are always available to help and provide clarification to ensure a smooth transaction.

Thoroughly read emails and respond.

Give me a call or send an e-mail and I will help you to move quickly, get the best deal, and start making money sooner.


Austin, Texas


Photo reference: Lmatt123 [CC BY 3.0 (


The Media Room Must Have

Even though you might not be building or remodeling a 9,000-square-foot mansion in your next fix-n-flip or vacation rental property update, you might want to consider installing a multi-functional media room in the main part of the house you are working on. The WSJ article, “The New Mansion Must: A Media Room,” by Cecilie Rohwedder, says this multimedia room is the latest trend in home design and might include any number of huge flat screen TVs occupying the same space as a fireplace, picture windows, games tables, couches, and computer work stations, all situated a short walk from the refrigerator in the kitchen. This multifunctional room is making itself at home in the “open-concept” floorplan and replacing the dark, sound-proof basement home theatre.

Recessed and No Glare

Making multi-tasking all the more real, in some homes, this multifunctional room might include a bank of multiple recessed flat-screen TVs with anti-glare screens and hidden audio systems so a movie, a social media feed, the news, and a PowerPoint slide you are working on for your job can all be showing at the same time. There might also be large picture windows with automated shades that can be lowered to block out light.

Electrical Outlet Planning

To make all this convenient and easy on the eye, this will take some electrical outlet planning with your electrician before you start the project, even right up front when you are putting together your budget and loan request. (As cheap as flat-screen TVs have become, you might want to consider throwing in a few flat-screen TVs to make the remodeled house more sellable. The RV industry has started to do that.)

The wall where the flat screen or flat screens will appear would need an outlet behind the flat-screen TV (or TVs) so the cords don’t show. For the automated shades, you might want to put outlets along beams in the ceiling or high up on the walls next to the windows. If there is a fireplace in the room, you could plan outlets for either side of the mantel.

Visualizing that work, study, and socializing might also be going on in this room, outlets in the floor where a desk or game table might go will prevent cords from being stretched everywhere, and outlets a little above desk height in the corners will be handy for charging devices or plugging in computers, and you won’t have to crawl around on the floor to reach the plug ins.



Now that you are on the road to becoming your own media installation contractor, you might be interested to know that according to Admit One CEO Lance Anderson (interviewed in the WSJ article) the job of the media installation contractor is to “not be an ‘eye sore’ blackening someone else’s design.” You need to make the electronics behind the entertainment invisible. Jason Barth of Premier Group in Carmel, Indiana says, the media system should be experienced, not seen.”

If I can help you with a loan, please call.  I have funding for fix-n-flip projects.


Pat St. Cin


Austin, Texas


References: Rohwedder, C. “The New Mansion Must: A Media Room,” (2019) WSJ

Deal Making

Learning to negotiate is critical to investing in real estate. Although this is not a full class on business negotiating, or even a brown-bag lunch seminar, I found this list of tips on negotiating on the Forbes website, and it is helpful. The article, “15 Tactics for Successful Business Negotiations” is by Richard Harroch and was written in 2016. The techniques, or tactics, are worth considering.

It is very likely you will naturally have some negotiating ability or you wouldn’t be in the real estate business. However, your skills may not be evenly distributed, and it is good to reflect on a comprehensive list so you can bring to mind skills that you might need to work on. For example, perhaps you are not shy at all, but you hate paperwork. As you will see from the following list, both of these traits, no fear and paperwork, will have a place in your negotiating tool box.

The 15 tactics include:

Listen and understand the other party’s issues and point of view.

Key: Do not do all the talking.

Be prepared.

Key: Review the business’s website and do Google and LinkedIn searches to learn all you can about the other party, the person you will be negotiating with, past deals, and what you competitors have offered or their pricing.

Keep the negotiations professional and courteous.

Key: “Don’t be an asshole.” Establish a good long-term relationship.

Understand the deal dynamics.

Key: Who has the leverage, time constraints, alternatives available to the other side, who is getting the payment?

Always draft the first version of the agreement.

Key: This lets you frame how the deal would be structured. Balance is key.

Be prepared to play poker.

Key: Know your walkaway price and stick to it. Walkaway if you cannot live with the offer.

Avoid the negotiating by continually conceding.

Key: the other party will learn your tactic and keep producing unreasonable demands, knowing you will concede. The deal will not get done.

Keep in mind that time is the enemy of many deals.

Key: be prompt and turn documents around quickly. Keep the deal moving.

Do not fixate on the deal in front of you and ignore alternatives

Key: Alternatives let the other party know they have competitors.

Do not get hung up on one issue

Key: Set aside hot issue for later so you do not get stuck on it and maybe can think of a creative solution.

Identify who the real decision-maker is.

Key: You cannot get anywhere if the other party cannot say yes or no. If you have the leverage, ask to speak to the person who has the power.

Never accept the first offer.

Key: Counteroffers and some back and forth will most likely lead to both parties being satisfied with the deal.

Ask the right questions.

Key: Do not be afraid to ask questions.

Prepare a Letter of Intent or Term Sheet to reflect your deal.

Key: The letter reflects your view of the key terms of the deal.

Get the help of the best advisors and lawyers.

Key: It is often worth the money to hire an investment baker or real estate attorney in a complicated deal.

As a broker, I can help you make the funding contacts and fill out the applications. But, in the business of real estate investing it is worth your time to learn to negotiate so you are satisfied with the deal you end up with.

To read more from Richard Harroch who is a venture capitalist in the San Francisco area.


The entire article appears at

Pat St. Cin


Austin, Texas


Handshake picture courtesy of EU2016 SK [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons.


In-a-Hurry Loan to Cover the Gap

There are several reasons why a fix-n-flip investor might want to secure a fast loan to cover a gap. A gap loan, as the name implies, is a loan that bridges a span of time. It helps you gain control of a property quickly even if you are still scrambling to get all your paperwork done for a full rehabilitation loan.

A Buyer in a Hurry
At some time or other, you might face a seller in a hurry. One situation that puts a seller in a hurry is foreclosure. Many property owners in this situation are in denial so they wait until the last week or so, or even days, before the foreclosure sale to act on saving their credit. To save their credit, they must pay the bank all they owe on the mortgage right now. The house might actually be worth much more than what they owe if they have been paying on the loan a long time or put a large payment down on it. But, a foreclosure on their record will ruin their credit. So, for them, it is better to sell at a discount and survive to buy another house another day.

In this scenario, an owner in foreclosure has agreed to sell the property to you at a steep discount, but they need to close the deal quickly. You, the investor, want to buy this property and you make an offer. However, the competition is extremely stiff, and another investor is sitting in the wings waiting to obtain the property. Your offer locks up control of the property temporarily. You need to move quickly to secure a loan. Normally the loan process takes a minimum of 7 working days and typically takes 10-15 working days.

A Nonrefundable Deposit

Another reason you might need funding in a hurry is that you have stumbled upon a wholesale purchase with a tight deadline to close, perhaps 2 to 5 days. The property is ideal for your purposes and you want to make an offer. However, if you don’t get the deal closed by the deadline, you will lose the nonrefundable deposit you are required to put down and control of the property you are seeking.



Getting Control of the Property

Here is where obtaining a gap loan is useful. A gap loan allows you to purchase the property as is while you are in the process of obtaining a rehab loan. The gap loan can be secured in 2 to 3 days typically. Your strategy is to obtain control of the property through this gap loan, begin paperwork to refinance the loan immediately and eventually complete the rehab and offer the property for sale.

REI Capital Resources has funds available for fix-n-flip loans with terms up to 6 to 9 months with a minimum of 3 months.

Fix-n-Flip Option 2

E-mail or call for more information on minimum and maximum loan amounts, interest rates, terms, and fees for specific project. I can help you with first liens only and these loans are limited to the Austin, DFW, Houston, and San Antonio Metro areas.

Pat St.Cin


Austin, Texas

The Perfect Fit

Quick Closings to Beat the Competition

As competition for houses to fix-n-flip tightens, the ability to get money quickly based on the value of the asset is an important tool in your box.

Private lenders, not banks, are willing to help you fund your project based on the value of the property you are looking at remodeling and the value of the project when it is complete. They have money to lend and you need money quickly. A perfect fit is out there.

bench hands field park

As a broker, it is my job to bring you together, to make the transaction easy for both the borrower and the lender. This means minimal paperwork, no credit check, no appraisal, and a quick closing. Together, we can get a quick closing because the loan is based on the property, a known entity of solid value, and because the loan is for a short duration.

There is a market out there for fixed up homes. As the price of new houses go up, there are fewer and fewer available at a price a young family can afford. Millennials have college debt to pay, but still want their children to go to good schools. So, they are looking for homes in the suburbs, older homes that have been remodeled.

So if you love to fix up older homes, have your eyes on homes that need some TLC but will be gems when they are cleaned up, updated, and remodeled, give me a call. The competition is stiff for these homes and you will need the money quickly to snap up that property.

I would love to give you a hand.

Follow this link for a quick pre-qualification form:

Or, please call or e-mail.

Pat St. Cin


Austin, Texas


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