Are you considering tax lien or tax deed investment in properties? In this episode of the Creating Wealth podcast, Jason Hartman discusses tax lien investing risks and the ongoing complaints associated with Platinum Investment Properties (PIP) West and PIP East. As Hartman has mentioned in previous episodes, he has been a victim of this company as well, and has interviewed others with similar experiences to his. Another investor with PIP, Bill Truss, discussed with Jason his experience with PIP and their shortcomings on what they initially claimed and what they delivered.
Also on the podcast, Elizabeth Embry reflects on her five-year plan that she and her husband Neil have achieved. She catalogs some of their methods, the feeling of financial freedom, and mentions the benefit of attending the Venture Alliance events.
Again, this coming Venture Alliance event is in January, and the top two prizes at the end of Hartman’s five-year plan contest include tickets to the Meet the Masters event, travel allowances, and access to the Venture Alliance weekend. Ron Paul will be a special guest speaker at the event, and for winners, there will be a backstage opportunity to meet Ron Paul, photo opportunities, and a VIP dinner in his honor. Further details are at jasonhartman.com/contest.
About Elisabeth Embry’s Five-Year Plan
Elizabeth Embry and her husband Neil are Hartman’s first Venture Alliance Mastermind members. She and Neil have actually achieved their five-year plan, and Elizabeth states that she started listening to the CW podcasts in 2010 while the couple was planning their financial future. Afterward, Neil attended his first Meet the Masters event in 2011 and right away he felt the desire to build relationships with the people he talked to.
Like many others, Elizabeth and Neil wanted to plan something for themselves that they’d be able to rely on, rather than working corporate jobs every day. Though Neil worked at Microsoft and owned his video gaming company, and Elizabeth worked in technology at T-Mobile and other companies, they wanted to plan something important together, and invest in real estate. After successfully compiling and executing their five-year plan, they now possess fivefive units.
How It Feels to Be Financially Free
After the success that Elizabeth and Neil have achieved, Hartman asks how it feels to be financially free and Elizabeth responds that it can be disorienting. It’s been one year since Elizabeth left her job and she is still finding her comfort zone. Neil only left his job a month ago, so for him, there is more to grow accustomed to. She explains that,
“It’s really been a big change, and I honestly was a little worried about he and I both being in the same place all day, but it’s actually been working out really well.”
Elizabeth stresses that it’s important to have access to coaching like she and Neil do, because fear of the unknown is the worst hinderance for people working on their five-year plan. At the start, people dream big and think about all the possible things that stand to be gained or lost. It’s reasonable to be afraid. Elizabeth states that meeting successful people at the Meet the Masters events has truly helped her realize that it’s possible.
She recalls a time during the couple’s planning phase when they were on a road trip to visit Elizabeth’s mother. While Neil drove the car, Elizabeth was looking at one of their plans on her laptop’s spreadsheet program, and the couple were discussing the need for fifty doors, wondering if it was possible to make it that far with their plan. Five years down the road, they have over fifty units.
We Can Author Our Future
Jason points out that as people, we tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in a single year, yet we underestimate what we can accomplish in five years. We start our journeys in different places, and different cycles of the market, so there are goals to aim at for all of us. Hartman quotes the adage,
“If you shoot for the moon and you miss, you end up among the stars, and that ain’t bad.”
He continues by mentioning that when he was young, he thought about what his future would look like. He truly started to focus on it with the help of several great mentors he had during his life. These mentors helped him get his mind on the right track for success and he started seriously considering his future, and he admits that he imagined a much different life for himself than what he has today, noting that it’s different but still great.
Humans are unique in the sense that we can author our own lives. As far as we know, animals do not have this ability. They think about what they can see, what’s accessible to them now. Humans can create a future for themselves mentally. We can bend the outcomes of our situations to suit our desires.
At age 24, Hartman states that he discovered the true power of visualization after studying the topic at great lengths, both from a new age standpoint and a scientific approach. He studied authors like Shakti Gawain, as well as listening to a program called Cyber Vision. Another Author, Carl Pribram, focused on a theory by the name of Holographic Brain Theory. Hartman explains briefly by stating,
“The bottom line of it seems to be, at least to me, you want to visualize your future, and when I say ‘visualize’ that’s almost the wrong word because there’s more to it than vision. Your vision is our most predominant sense…The experts say it’s about 70% of our sensory perception is vision. Your eyes literally have brain tissue in them.”
By this he means that you should involve all your senses when you’re picturing your future. What will your future feel like? How will it smell? How will it sound?
Again, Hartman invites and advises listeners to participate in the five-year plan contest, where you can discuss your five-year plan in any way that you see fit. Overcome your need for perfection and try to create something primarily for your own benefit. It can be brief or involved.
Elizabeth agrees and advises recording goals. She uses PowerPoint to record all the goals she wants to achieve in the future, because writing these things down brings with them a sense of commitment to them. When you write it down, it feels more real, more concrete, more accessible.
What to Do BEFORE Your Five-Year Plan
If you’re feeling nervous or intimidated about recording a video for the contest, Hartman advises a few things before recording your five-year plan video. One option is to talk to the camera on your phone, as nobody has to see this segment, and it will give you a sense of control and familiarity. You can also make a PowerPoint, write your goals on paper as well.
One approach that may help more than others is to write a simple paragraph about what you believe your life will look like in 2022, five years from today. What will things be like for you? What will you do with your financial freedom? What hobbies do you plan to take up when you have more free time? For example, Hartman opened a foundation when he sold one of his companies in 2005.
How Elizabeth and Neil Assess Both Prior Years and the Next Five
Elizabeth explains that she and Neil have a process that they use annually to review their plans from recent years and upcoming years. Once a year, her family visits a foreign location to discuss their plans in depth. One year, they visited Oman, Jordan after the Dubai Venture Alliance event. The family went kayaking and talked about their plan for the future during the fun experience.
They take a close look at how they performed the previous year, what they want to do in the upcoming year, and any factors that may influence their plans. They reset their targets, identify any corrections to the plan that are needed, consider new markets, and they spend about two half-days in these discussions.
“At first, it was very difficult to build up the format and form and all that, now it’s just part of what we do.” Elizabeth explains.
She also stresses the importance of associations. Elizabeth and Neil have made a future for themselves, and part of that success was due to having associations at Hartman’s events. They attended seminars, events, tours, and more. They met people through ups and downs and watched the events grow over the years, as well as making their business grow through the hard work they dedicated to it.
Jason also points out that businesses and business partnerships are like a marriage. They take work and devotion and they aren’t always fun. You grow with your business, portfolio, partners, and the like.
He recommends reading the book, The Profit by Kahlil Gibran, mentioning a key point when the author is discussing how love isn’t only for a person’s growth, but for their pruning. Bumps in the road in real estate investments are much the same. They may be difficult, but in the long run they’re good for both growth and pruning.
In wrapping up his discussion with Elizabeth, Jason advises participating in the contest once more, stating that it’s much more than just a contest. Developing a five-year plan is crucial for anyone planning real estate investments. A plan can be modified through the years, but it’s a great idea to get something recorded for future reference.
How Bill Met PIP West
Jason introduces Bill Truss to the podcast, another victim of the issues involving PIP West that have been mentioned in other episodes. Jason is also a victim of PIP West, and is currently in litigation with them over his past investments. He has interviewed another victim, Florence Hamler, in a past episode as well.
Before getting started with Bill’s experience with PIP, Hartman invites the president of PIP, Charles Sells, to participate in a future podcast, giving him the opportunity to share his side of the story and rebut any of the issues involving his company.
Bill lives in Pembroke Pines, Florida and he invested almost $100,000 in PIP after seeing them at an Equity Trust conference in 2013. The public speaker at the PIP booth was Don Fullman, who Bill approached in hopes of discussing the company further. Fullman displayed a formal presentation for Bill, claiming that with Illinois tax liens, there was possible 18% return on investment in six months, meaning that it would be 36% in one year.
Jason explained that in his experience with PIP, even higher returns were promised to him for investing in tax liens, because of the returns on investment and the possibility of purchasing properties through foreclosure.
Bill explains that he invested exactly $99, 664.71 from his retirement fund into Platinum Investment Properties.
Hartman stated that although PIP had a booth at an Equity Trust event, that should not reflect on Equity Trust as a company. He claims that they’re great company, and are not affiliated with PIP.
What Happened to Bill After He Invested with PIP West
After his investment, Bill explained that several email exchanges took place between himself and PIP. He received an attractive binder containing a map of Illinois that explained which counties Bill had investments in: St. Clair, Brown, and Kankakee, and there was documentation that showed his control of the investments.
In 2013, Bill received some returns, but they only totaled about $20,000 and roughly $72,000 of his investment was not returned. He hadn’t made any profit on his investment.
After the tax liens in 2014, all the redemptions dried up and since then, Bill has tried several times to communicate with POP about his redemptions to inquire about when they’d start again. He has not received any information directly, and has been told that foreclosures of the properties were in his best interest, but they have not netted Bill any returns. He says,
“In 2014, that’s when all of the redemptions dried up. That’s the way it’s been since that time, and since that time I have communicated with them on numerous occasions trying to find out when my redemptions would be resumed. I have not received any information as to when they would be resumed.”
What a Tax Lien Is and How It Works
Jason explains that when a person fails to pay taxes on their properties, certain municipalities will offer investors an opportunity to buy the rights to the tax lien. This way the municipality can receive money quickly, but the tax lien investing risks may not be fully explained to the investor.
The investor has the chance to make returns in two different ways. The investor can either gain interest on the return, or there’s the possibility of owning the property after a foreclosure.
PIP recommended foreclosure on the properties that Bill had liens on, yet Bill hasn’t been actively involved in the foreclosure process. He spoke to PIP in the past and asked them to explain to him how the process was supposed to be done, but he has yet to have any information come to him in that regard. Bill explained his efforts further by saying,
“It was my attempt to have them give me some pointers on how this should be done, but I have not received any information on how this is actually supposed to be done.”
In Hartman’s case, PIP asked for $17,000 to start foreclosures on 10 properties. During this process, they took one of the properties and retitled it to themselves. Even though Hartman’s money was in the properties, PIP kept it after turning the title over to themselves. They claimed that the money was kept in order to pay for the fees that Hartman apparently owed them. They failed to bill him for these supposed fees. Hartman admits that there were fees along the way, but that he paid all of them and is unsure of where these new fees are coming from.
The Additional Invoices Bill Received for “Administrative Fees”
Bill had a similar experience and claims that he received numerous invoices from PIP for administrative fees. He has one invoice in particular for over $2000. Of course, Bill is less than enthusiastic about paying PIP any more money because he hasn’t seen any returns for his investments.
He called PIP and spoke with Lena Cabriani, telling her that he was interested in liquidating his account. She stated that in order to do this, foreclosure was Bill’s best option. He wanted his money back and they were only willing to assist after foreclosures. They have not continued communication with Bill about the process. It has been almost a year since Bill spoke with Lena. He called two or three times about it in the recent past to discuss it and has spoken primarily to Lena with no real solution. He claims to have never spoken to Charles Sells, and Hartman informs him that Don Fullman recently left the company.
When Hartman asks Bill if he believes that the company is ignoring him, he responds with,
“I do feel that this is a strategy that they’re using to wear me down…taking the properties and do what they want to do with the properties. This may be what their strategy is, I just don’t know. I’m very much disappointed with what I’ve witnessed thus far.”
What Bill is Asking from PIP West
Bill has yet to receive about $72,000 worth of returns on his initial investment. He wants his money back at minimum, his return on the principle. Interest rates calculate to a good deal of money back as well.
Bill states that he doesn’t believe that the company is focused on doing what they’re claiming they do. They are deliberately taking money and while they do invest it, he doesn’t know what they do with the money afterward due to very poor communication on PIP’s part.
Bill has no access to the rest of his investment as of now.
In wrapping up, Hartman once again invites President Charles Sells to participate in a future podcast if he’d like to state his company’s take on the issues and address any of the victims’ complaints against PIP.