Did you ever get in trouble for passing notes in school? Financial pulse-taking news site MarketWatch recently reported about a special “Note School” where students learn about a more lucrative form of notes – ones that come with a property.
It’s 9:30 a.m. on a recent sunny Friday, and 60 people have crammed into an airport hotel conference room in Northern Virginia to hear Kevin Shortle, a veteran real estate professional with a million-watt smile, talk about “architecting a deal.” Some have worked in real estate before, flipping houses or managing rentals. But the deals Shortle, lead national instructor for a company called Note School, is describing are different: He teaches people how to buy home notes, the building blocks of housing finance. While titles and deeds establish property ownership, notes — the financial agreements between lenders and home buyers — set the terms by which a borrower will pay for the home. Financial institutions have long passed them back and forth as they rebalance their portfolios.
Colonial Funding doesn’t make buyers of its notes go through Note School, but it does require them to work with licensed mortgage servicers. Note School offers connections to armies of vendors offering services for every step of the process: people who will assess the property’s real market value, “door-knockers” who will hand-deliver letters to homeowners, title research companies, insurers, and more. “We’ve been in the note buying business for 30 years,” said Eddie Speed. “We’re not teaching people to go and do ‘Wild West investing.’”