Re: Defending Bonds - Posted by John Behle
Posted by John Behle on December 08, 1998 at 15:27:14:
This isn’t a matter of flexibility or creativity, just practicality.
I have negotiated millions in “paper trade” deals. With some expertise, negotiation skills, backup information and the right seller, they can be quite easy to do.
The problem I have with bonds is as I stated. A bond does not have at a given moment a true value that reflects in the face value. Especially with zero coupon bonds - which also carry a potential tax problem of imputed interest.
Most of the sellers I have dealt with in “paper trade” type transactions would prefer cash, but just can’t get it in a given market. Few people know that bonds do not sell at face value. It takes one simple phone call and they know what potential discount they would have to take. They then view that as taking an extreme discount in the property and it doesn’t work in the negotiations.
With notes, they see something very similar to what they would take - just with different collateral. It makes the negotiations far simpler. It isn’t that often that the subject of selling the note for cash comes up and they then don’t jump to the “I’m taking an extreme discount for my property” type of thinking.
With notes, the value is relative. A note for $50,000 at 10% interest is worth that in trade to most potential sellers. To me it may be worth as little as $30,000.
Which brings up one of the bigger challenges with bonds - the margins. I can’t get any where near the type of discount on bonds that I can on paper - If you compare apples to apples.
I can get decent discounts on near worthless zero coupon junk bonds. That can lead to the margins to make the deal work financially, but I will not give them to a seller. Neither will I stay in the middle and in any way guarantee them.
I will never ask a seller to do something that I would not ethically suggest as an agent or consultant. I won’t ask them to do something that I would not do myself in the way of risks, etc.
I guess that loses me a few deals.
So, good bonds don’t discount enough to make the deal fly and I will not stick a seller with bad or risky bonds. EXPECIALLY when I can get great margins in good safe paper that I am willing to guarantee.
The guarantee portion is important, because they almost always ask for it and tax wise, it is usually the only way to make the deal fly. If I were to buy the notes (or bonds) at a discount and trade them at face for the property, I have a short term capital gain. I can work around that. The problem is with the seller. If they accept notes or bonds for their equity, they are taxable as if they received cash. The fact that most of them don’t know that isn’t acceptable to me - I will not stick them with a tax bomb that explodes later. Many of the sellers I work with accept paper or are persuaded to do so because they can keep an installment sale treatment if it is done properly - which means me staying in the middle.
If I stay in the middle with paper, I can continue to profit on the notes constantly. I still have an active portfolio that I can make a great deal of money on. I am thrilled to be in the middle for the profit advantage alone.
With bonds, again, if they are good bonds there isn’t enough discount. If they are weak enough that I can get the margins, then I (and most sellers) won’t do the deal. There is also NO upside profit. This is an extreme amount of money. At some point, maybe I’ll show why, but it is way to deep to go into here.
I can see that the way you are using bonds works. No question there are situations where bonds are applicable - I know that fully well. It’s just that that isn’t the application that most people are “Sold” on.
I made the comments previously because the ways that beginning and naive investors are told to use bonds are both impractical and in my opinion unethical (depending how they do it). Obviously these are not the ways you are using them. I have no problem with a banker accepting bonds for the REO property. They don’t have the tax and risk problems. A little old couple selling their home or rental does. The average “newbie” investor either doesn’t know the risks and problems or doesn’t care - Both of which are not anything I will encourage. Few investors would have the negotiation skills to pull off a deal on these transactions.