The Cooks give readers a weekly glimpse into their hectic lives from the unique perspective of Bill's own writing in a regular column about the challenges and rewards of their work.
Based out of their home ranch in Adairsville, the Cooks have not only grown their business during the economic downturn, but have put in countless hours to help new and perspective investors do the same. With the foundation of the North Georgia Real Estate Investors Association, the Cooks host monthly seminars on various topics aimed at helping other investors.
Name: Bill and Kim Cook
Occupation: Real estate investors with North Georgia Real Estate Investors Association, Inc., and North Georgia Homes, Inc.
Education: Kim: McEachern High School in Powder Springs
Bill: Trinity High School in Louisville, Ky. Westfield College in Massachusetts
Family: Married for 16 years ... Kim says it's been two of the happiest years of her life!
City of Residence: Adairsville
How did you get into real estate?
Kim: My parents have owned single-family rentals since I was a teenager. I grew up helping them rehab their properties after tenants moved out. Owning and controlling investment property intrigues me, and I knew that's what I wanted to do.
Bill: I paid my way through college by selling Electrolux vacuums door-to-door. One of my customers was a real estate investor who owned a number of single-family rental homes. The guy was fascinating. He taught me that owning rental property and getting mailbox money was much wiser than working for someone else who could fire you whenever they pleased.
From that point on, I wanted to be a real estate investor, but I was too terrified to take the leap. Marrying Kim changed everything. She wasn't scared of rental property or tenants. Truth is, Kim got us going and found our very first deal. The redhead is the most incredible person I've ever met. I owe her everything ... and she never let's me forget it!
How has your business changed since the housing market crash?
A: Our business hasn't changed that much. The basics are still the basics. If anything, it's much easier being a real estate investor today than it was in 2006. Most of the speculators are gone and the banks will no longer foolishly give someone money to sink into an obviously bad deal.
Back in 2006, there were a ton of speculators buying real estate. Investors buy and hold property ... they're in it for the long run. On the other hand, speculators buy a property and then try to sell it for a quick, highly-taxed profit. Being a speculator is a dangerous game when the music stops like it did in 2006.
As investors, our rentals have stayed full, our rents have stayed constant, and we've been able to buy some really incredible deals. For example, we bought a three-bedroom, two-bath single-family rental on an acre of land for $101. (This is not a typo!)
Where do you see the housing market going from here?
A: We don't think we've seen values hit bottom. There's still too much shadow inventory on the market. Shadow inventory are the properties where the homeowner hasn't made a mortgage payment in six months or more and the banks have yet to foreclose. Shadow inventory is also all the bank-owned properties sitting vacant with no for sale sign in the yard. There are still tons of both types of these properties in Bartow County.
What is your favorite part of what you do?
Kim: Helping sellers get rid of a house problem and helping buyers find their dream home.
Bill: I love sitting down with sellers and finding a creative win-win solution to their real estate problems. As a real estate investing teacher, I love showing mom-and-pop investors how to get out of the rat race.
What is your motivation for hosting monthly real estate investor meetings?
It's a ball making a difference in peoples' lives -- knowing we're helping folks change their family trees.
At our meetings, when someone finally understands the importance of having their money work for them instead of them working for their money, their face lights up. We call this their big ah-hah moment. This is what motivates us.
Through your columns, we've heard some about your farm. What animals do you have?
A: We have three horses -- a Paint, a Quarter Horse and the world's ugliest Appaloosa. Then there's T.C. (Too Cute) the wonder dog -- the real love of Kim's life.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Kim: I will walk this earth only one time as Kim Cook. Be gracious and grateful in that walk.
Bill: Obey the redhead!
Where is your favorite place to be in Bartow County?
A: We love the peacefulness of our little horse ranch. We have a fire pit out back. Sitting around the fire talking creative deal structuring and financing with other like-minded investors is our favorite place to be and thing to do.
What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
Kim: Loving, kind, persistent
Bill: Passionate, dedicated, determined
If you were not in this line of work, what would you be doing?
Kim: I'd have a boarding barn and surround myself with the sweet, wonderful smell of horses.
Bill: Nothing else. I was put on this earth to be a real estate investor. It's what I do best and the thing that interests me most.