FOLLOW UP - Casey Serin
I don't have time at the moment for a long post, but there is a LOT of good info in the comments on the previous post. That said, here is what Casey's website showed after he took it down...but before it was completely taken down. His website only says 'stay tuned' at this time. www.iamfacingforeclosure.com
What I did was Stupid!!
September 24, 2006.
This blog was the WRONG kind of exposure. I APOLOGIZE to my friends, family, associates and especially EVERYONE WHO HELPED ME with my real estate transactions.
I DO NOT BLAME ANYBODY for ANYTHING and take full responsibility.
What started as an honest desire to share my experience turned into something dangerous - playing with fire. After talking to a business associate this morning I realized I went TOO far and shared TOO much. I turned something small into a big exaggerated mess. Others were telling me this too, but I wasn’t getting it. Now I crossed the line. I misused my ambition.
I have damaged my reputation and I have damaged many good relationships through this. I never meant to hurt anyone. So to stop any further damage I am shutting down and laying low.
I am sorry.
Casey Serin [email}
Before he removed the info completely from his site, these were the last few posts. I guess he was featured in the Voice of San Diego before he axed his site. Here is the text of his site before it was pulled down. Sorry there are no pictures and the formatting might be off a bit.
I am Facing Foreclosure .com
-- September 23rd, 2006
Voice of San Diego Reports on My Story
Thanks to Kelly Bennett for writing a fair and balanced article about my foreclosure situation on Voice of San Diego.
Here it is for your convenience:
My Life is an Open Blog
Casey Serin is a 24-year-old Sacramento man who bought seven properties in four states within the first three months of 2006. Even after selling a home in Utah a few weeks ago, he's $2.2 million in debt and will be four months behind on all of his mortgages come October.
He started a blog to tell people about his experiences and his mistakes as a novice investor — it's called iamfacingforeclosure.com.
I talked to Serin this afternoon and he told me he first got into real estate as a 19-year-old in 2002, buying a condo as his residence in Sacramento. Originally from Uzbekistan, Serin and his family immigrated to the United States 14 years ago. His parents own their home in the Sacramento area, but haven't invested in any other real estate.
He sold that first condo in 2003 and made about $30,000 in profit, he said.
"That was kind of my first experience," he said. "This real estate is a good business if you do it right."
And, Serin admits, "a rising tide floats all ships" — he knows he was successful then primarily because of the appreciation in the housing market.
But he admits he had no idea what he was getting himself into when he started investing in properties earlier this year. He financed all of the mortgages 100 percent and has been paying only the interest on those loans. (Click here to read my story about the risks involved with those loans and their popularity in San Diego.) He used "stated-income" forms that don't require lenders to do background checks to make sure the borrower actually earns as much as he says he does.
And another reason he was able to get so much financing was that he claimed he'd be living in each of the properties. Normally, only one property in an investor's portfolio can be claimed as "owner-occupied," and it's easier to get financing on that property because it's supposed to be your only property. (Investor property financing often requires much larger down-payments, to avoid cases like this).
"Some lenders told me, it's no big deal, as long as you can say that [living in the property] was your intent," he said. "I just feel that's not right."
Because Serin was applying for financing for properties in California, New Mexico, Texas and Utah within days of each other, the banks couldn't trace the pending loan documents to check up on his story — so it looked like each one really was his only property.
Now he's trying to figure out what to do. He got married two-and-a-half years ago and his wife is in school to get a degree in accounting. They're living with her parents while he sorts out his debt.
"I'm an example of what not to do," he said. "It was a combination of lack of experience and also, buying too much, too fast. I'm kind of an open personality. If my honesty helps somebody, great."
While he characterized his goals in investment as buy-fix-sell, he said he doesn't like to be called a "flipper ."
"I don't like the word flipping because it makes it sound like you're doing something illegal," he said.
I want to add, that "flipping" is a misunderstood term and has a bad stigma in the media.
See Ron LeGrand's article Flipping is Illegal.
Also, Steve Cook of FlippingHomes.com in his FAQ on Flipping puts it this way:
Flipping, also known as real estate investing or the buying and selling of a home, is not illegal in any shape way or form. There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a home cheap and selling it for more then what you bought it for. There is also nothing wrong with buying a home, investing in fixing it up, and selling the same real estate for way over market value. If your buyer wants to pay you way over market value, and they have the means to pay you, then it is their choice. They can do that and so can you without any recourse.
The problem arises when a lender is involved. What people typically refer to as "illegal flipping" should be called mortgage fraud. The media has given real estate investors in general a bad name, because they aren't focusing on the real problem. Without mortgage fraud, homes could not be sold for more then what they are worth when a lender is involved. Lenders want to lend based off of what a house is worth today. They lend at varying different Loan to Value ratios depending upon the borrowers credit worthiness. The problem with "illegal flipping" is when investors, mortgage brokers, loan officers, appraisers, etc… get together to "create" a better picture of a loan package to a lender. They do things such as inflating appraisals, gifting down payment, drawing up false w-2's, manufacturing pay stubs, writing credit letters, etc…
-- September 22nd, 2006
Is This a Scam? Why am I doing this?
Reading through the initial feedback I received, many people think that I am making this up. They think I'm just blogging about facing foreclosure to get traffic, exposure, leads, whatever.
You may also be thinking:
* Why would I share my financial details with the world and risk being embarrassed, criticized, made fun of or taken advantage of? Don't people in distress normally want to hide and save face?
* Why would I admit to doing "shady loans" and risk going to jail?
* Am I really facing foreclosure on all these houses?
* How can I be so calm talking about my distress?
I was amazed that people mistake my honesty / confidence for a scam. However, I understand how that may be. I went from being embarrassed and distressed about my situation to being confident about overcoming it, learning from it and sharing it publicly. Maybe it's my new-found confidence that made people suspect it to be a scam.
Nevertheless, I still feel down about the whole situation and feel sorry for making bad moves this year. But, instead of crying about it I decided that I will be writing about it.
Here are my goals for IamFacingForeclosure.com:
1. Market Non-Performing Properties. When I first realized I am facing foreclosure and that I need to sell all the houses very quick, I started marketing everywhere. I sent an email to everybody I know. I posted ads on craigslist. I brought my deals in front of investment clubs. Keeping track of all the details and keeping everyone on the same page was hard. I am using this website to solve the problem.
2. Sell Fast by Being Up Front. It was embarrassing at first to tell everyone that I'm in trouble. But then I figured, I will have the best chance to move my properties quick if people understand that the time is running out!
3. Demonstrate Genuine Hardship. I share my financial details to show publicly that I'm really in trouble. Banks want to see evidence of distress before they offer options like loan-modification, payment plans, or allowing a short sale.
4. Show You What NOT to Do. By telling my story honestly and in detail I have the best chance to help others learn from my mistakes. The lessons I'm learning are costly and painful. I don't want people re-inventing the wheel like I did. Whether you're looking to buy a house to live in or you are a beginner real estate investor. Learn from me!
5. Expose Shady Industry Practices. Too many real estate professionals encourage you to cheat and lie in. Yes, I am not innocent. But I decided to take a stand with this blog. No more compromise!
6. Expose Bad Real Estate Gurus and Education. Don't get me wrong. There is a lot of good books, tapes and seminars out there. However, some of them teach you just enough to be dangerous. A lot of education is overpriced / incomplete / inaccurate / shady.
7. Help You Stop Foreclosure and Recover. Are you facing foreclosure too? I know the feelings of denial, desperation, helplessness and intense financial pressure you feel. As I learn and get out of my situation I can help you through my experience. I will help you to either save your home, or help you sell it fast. I want you to understand the foreclosure process, the time line, your options, forbearance, loan modification, short sale, etc. Know when (and if) to file bankruptcy. Learn how to rebuild your credit. Learn how to get back on your feet.
Bottom line, why this is not a scam:
A couple of weeks ago I sent an email to everybody in my address book - friends, family, real estate contacts, associates, past clients and co-workers. In the email I shared the situation and provided a link to this blog. Why would I lie to EVERYBODY and destroy my reputation?
You can check all the facts. Drive by the houses. Call the lenders and verify. Check the public record next month for Notices of Default. It's all legit!
What do you think?
-- September 21st, 2006
Brutal Comments and The High Cost of Honesty
I was featured on The House Bubble Blog with Attitude and received a flood of mostly angry comments. People are giving me a beating! (NOTE: it was the housingpanic.blogspot.com blog that 'featured' this story)
Yes I do deserve a beating. I fully own up to my mistakes and choose to take the consequences!
However, some people are taking it a bit too far with obscenity and just pure HATE. I had to delete a few comments to keep this blog PG. I am all for honest feedback but lets be reasonable.
So I enabled comment moderation. And NO I am not trying to silence the critics. Anybody who has something helpful or honest (but not overly brutal) to say will receive my approval. As you can see from my blog I am not trying to hide anything.
Aside from the brutality, there has been a lot of good and constructive feedback. You can look through the different posts in the sidebar and check out the comments.
On the constructive side, I did receive some good advice from Osman, a real estate blogger in Colorado. Thank you.
The High Cost of Honesty.
It's true I got into some shady loans this year including….
1) Calling investment properties OWNER OCCUPIED
2) Stating a high income that I can't prove
Shall I continue to lie to cover up my old lies??
That's not right!
I am braking the lie cycle. On this blog I will tell the world the full truth. I will take whatever consequences that come as a result.
Some future topics will include:
* The truth behind stated income loans aka "Liar's Loans"
* What some mortgage brokers will tell you to make a quick commission check
* The truth about owner-occupied loans and " the intent to occupy"
* The truth behind cash-back at close
* Consequences of lying on your mortgage application
* Does "flipping houses" cause housing inflation ?
* Is buying, fixing and flipping houses wrong / illegal?
* Do "house flippers" improve neibhorhoods and provide credit-challenged buyers a way to realize the American Dream and Pride of Home Ownership?
* Is it wrong to make a profit while providing a valuable service?
* The consequences of not having a solid exit strategy or two.
* The result of not having a business plan
* The effects of the "Get Rich Quick" mentality in housing
* How the Real estate Gurus teach you just enough to be dangerous
* The true cost of fixing houses with no construction experience .
* When and why should you file for bankruptcy?
* Can you go to jail for mortgage fraud?
* And more on my situation, selling houses quickly, foreclosure, short sales, subject-to, etc…
* Did I miss something?
Hopefully people will learn from my mistakes and be positively encouraged by the way I handle it.
The Truth Hurts… as they say.
-- September 20th, 2006
Very Honest "For Sale By Owner" Sign
Honest For Sale By Owner Sign
My For Sale by Owner sign for Muncy Modesto property with I am Facing Foreclosure. com address and my phone number.
I'm really putting myself out there and taking a risk by being honest about my situation. Hopefully people will sense the urgency and help find me a buyer.
I was a little embarrassed putting up this sign. Good thing I was there mid-day and nobody saw me. Although, after I put it up and started leaving I saw a neighbor from across the street go over to pick up a flyer.
Buyers may try to exploit my weakness. They tell you to negotiate from your strength, right? Is being honest = weak? I don't know. I don't really want to negotiate anyway. My terms are pretty straight forward. I just want some cash and walk away.
I will need to put on a thick skin. This may cause me to become the talk of the neighborhood. People might laugh, criticize or ridicule. The concerned parents of teenage or 20-something kids will tell their kids "See! This is what happens when you take dumb risks!". Some may think "Facing Foreclosure .com" is just a ploy to make a sale.
I don't care… I'm desperate.
-- September 19th, 2006
Not Your Typical Flyer
Here is a flyer that I put together for the Muncy property. The big "I am Facing Foreclosure" will hopefully attract extra attention. I am going down to the property today and will put up a For Sale By Owner sign and put my flyers in the flyer box.
Muncy Modesto CA Flyer
I offer owner financing "takeover my payments" as an option. The flyer includes information on my loans as well as a break down of all the costs to justify the price.
I'm getting ready to list this property on MLS with a flat fee broker for only $249. Of course I will still be offering 2.5% to the buyers' agent.
The MLS listing and the I am Facing Foreclosure flyer should help me sell the property quickly.
Well, there you have it. It will be interesting to see what happens to this whole situation. I am sure that we will hear more about this in the future. Keep the comments coming. I will have more content coming down the pipes.