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I received two cartons of Carleton Sheet’s books and tapes from his associate in the spring of 1998. (Sheets’ name is sometimes misspelled as Carlton Sheets or Carelton Sheets.) I appreciate their generosity in sending all that material, but I wonder why they did it considering my approach to real estate and what is contained in Sheets’ material. Where to begin?

Overview

Sheets targets beginners. The curriculum he devised for those novices is not what I think beginners need to know. In fact, it appears to me that the topics he chose to write about were selected to maximize Carleton Sheets’ income, not to increase the incomes of his customers.

The customers that most real estate gurus go after are relatively uneducated, inexperienced, and poor. Sheets spent much of his adult life as a salesman. One of the main things salesmen must do is overcome objections. As you would expect, one of the objections you run into when you try to sell investment advice to poor people is, “I don't have any money to invest.”

How do the gurus part these fools from what little money they have? They push approaches which do not require money to invest, namely, nothing down, partnering with wealthy people, and lease options. Sheets’ books include “How to Buy Your First Home Or Investment Property with NO DOWN PAYMENT” and “Creating Quick Wealth With Partnerships.” Those are, at best, rather advanced topics for beginners with weak finances. More accurately, they are a waste of time for such people and may even be dangerous to the wealth, credit, and freedom of novice real estate investors. The president of the Robert Allen Nothing Down Club of Atlanta went to federal prison for doing illegal nothing-down deals. He is not the only nothing-down follower to suffer that fate.

Sheets also writes about foreclosures and other distressed properties. That’s a bit advanced for his beginner audience. And he writes about property management. Bingo. That's the kind of information his readers really need. An agent wrote me a letter telling me stories about Sheets graduates coming into his office.

Prices

The worst gurus outrage me with their incredible multi-thousand-dollar "boot camps" and "mentoring" services. Sheets' prices range from $9.95 for a "World's Greatest Wealth Builder Booklet" to a $799.95 "Wealth & Empowerment Training Seminar." Not as bad as the worst, but still too high. Unfortunately, once you pay those prices, you are on the call list and you will be telephoned to get you to buy far more expensive stuff.

On writing a book

I have written ten full-length books. Writing a book is like running a marathon. You write and write and write for months. You figure you’re almost finished. Then you count the number of pages you’ve written and you are amazed to find that you’re only half done.

Most people do not have the stamina to finish a marathon. And most writers do not have the stamina to finish a full-length book. They quit at that half-way point, or sooner. Then what? If you have a major publisher, the publisher demands the advance back. If you are your own publisher, you either abandon the project or spend months and months and months more writing the other half. But many of the gurus take a third path.

They puff up their half book with blank paper to make the number of pages come out to that of a full-length book. They double-space text. They quadruple or sextuple space between paragraphs. They expand the margins. They find many excuses to have totally blank pages. They put in filler like directories of government officials or agencies or forms that are repeated dozens of times with just minor changes on each form.

Carleton Sheets’ books generally have directories of stuff like HUD regional offices, repeated blank forms, pages for “notes.” His books, other than the one on nothing-down, are double spaced, have large type and huge margins, skip lines between paragraphs, and have lots of blank pages and pages with just four or five words on them.

People who do this will generally protest that they made legitimate book-design decisions. Yeah, sure. But the effect is that what is being marketed as a "book" is much less than a book. And in the case of the typical real estate guru, he demands much more than the price of a book for it. Sheets charges $159.95 to $209.85 for his various “programs.” The “programs” include both a written and audio cassette version of the material in question.

In short, I believe Sheets’ “programs” (other than the no-down one) are really booklets that have been puffed up with blank paper, fancy binders, and extraneous audio cassettes to make them weigh a couple of pounds and therefore seem worth the high prices he charges. The actual book-store value of his programs, if they were sold as books and created with normal typesetting, margins, and so forth, would be about $9.95 to $12.95 because of their low page count. Furthermore, they would not sell because they stink. Only by using TV infomercials can he sell this junk.

Sheets' background

Many real estate gurus have embarrassing backgrounds. High-school dropouts. College dropouts. An uninterrupted string of failures after leaving school. Sheets, on the other hand, has a few legitimate accomplishments. He was born 8/25/39 in IL and received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, business, and speech at age 21 from Ohio Wesleyan in 1961. Ohio Wesleyan is currently an expensive private school ($25,000 a year) suggesting that Sheets came from an affluent family (or that he got a scholarship). I do not know how selective of a school it was in 1958 when he got accepted there.

Here is part of an email I received from David Sheets, who claims to be Carleton’s brother, on 3/31/06:

“My brother and I grew up in Delaware, Ohio where Ohio Wesleyan is located.  And you are correct that he received his degree from Wesleyan in 1961.  To make the assumption that we grew up in a family of some affluence however, is very far from the truth.  Carleton went to OWU as a result of working his way through College and, at that time, OWU gave a significant tuition break to "townies" which is what my brother and I were.

“The home we lived in for more than 15 years was purchased by my father (travelling sales) and mother (part-time secretary in the OWU music department) for $10,000.  It was a three bedroom home of 1900+ square feet and according to zillow.com, currently has a market value of $54,000.  Far from the affluent background you inferred.  In fact, my parents rented out two added bedrooms in the back of the house to college students to make ends meet.  Carleton lived at home the first two years of college. ”

[Reed response: My original paragraph above says, “suggesting that Sheets came from an affluent family (or that he got a scholarship).” So David Sheets righteous indignation at my, “assumption that we grew up in a family of some affluence” is disingenuous. Unable to refute what I actually said, he twists what I said to make it easier for him to complain about. The bottom line is that Sheets got a scholarship (the “tuition break”) which is precisely what I said one of the two possibilities was. Conspicuous by its absence in Sheets’ 3/31/06 email was any evidence that anything else I have said about Carelton in this long analysis is inacccurate or incomplete.]

Salesman

Sheets’ career has generally been in sales. I would suggest that it still is. He was awarded the Specialist in Real Estate Securities (SRS) designation by the Real Estate Securities and Syndication Institute (RESSI), a subsidiary of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). Sheets mentions his RESSI membership and SRS designation prominently in his biography. All NAR designations are legitimate indications of expertise. However, there are a few things that would-be customers of Sheets should know about RESSI.

It went out of business on 4/22/90. So it is a bit odd that Sheets would still be mentioning it in 1998. That is an indication that he markets almost exclusively to beginners. Experienced investors know that RESSI is defunct.

Sheets current real estate mode is ostensibly to help beginners make millions in real estate. That was not the purpose of RESSI. NAR is a national association of salesmen. Their designations generally recognize skill at selling or managing salespeople. In particular, RESSI members were engaged in selling shares in real estate limited partnerships to laymen.

It is extremely unusual for a national trade association to go completely out of business. RESSI members were among the main players in an industry with few happy customers. The vast majority of real estate limited partners regret their investment. Thousands of lawsuits were filed against sellers of real estate limited partnerships. Some are still in the courts.

Limited partnerships were generally tax motivated. So the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which devastated real estate, was a big factor in running the industry “out of town.” And, it is also true that RESSI members' activities in selling tax shelters were probably an important reason why Congress passed the Tax Reform Act of 1986. In short, I would not regard either membership in, or a designation from, RESSI as much to brag about, especially when selling investment advice to consumers. It would be more appropriate to brag about being a RESSI designee if Sheets were applying for a job as a stock broker.

There is an old saying in real estate, that at the beginning of a limited partnership, the general partners have the experience and the limited partners have the money. And at the end of the limited partnership, those positions are reversed. RESSI was the trade association of the general partners.

Real Estate Investor's Hall of Fame

Sheets says he was inducted into the Real Estate Investor's Hall of Fame in 1992. I have never been inducted into that Hall of Fame. That would make me feel bad---if I had ever heard of the Real Estate Investor's Hall of Fame. I have not. Neither has the National Association of Realtors® who checked for me. I have never seen anyone else claim to be one of its inductees. I also searched for it in various Internet search engines to no avail, which means it has no Web site and has never been mentioned in anyone else's Web site.

It’s apparently not very famous, which is odd for a Hall of Fame. If any of you have ever heard of this Hall of Fame, I would like to know who runs it and what their criteria for induction are. I do not want to apply for induction. I just want to know how Carleton Sheets got to be the only inductee I can identify.

Here in an email I received on 11/13/05.

Tah dah!!! I found it. It's at http://www.realestatefame.com/illinois.htm . If you click on the link you should see the smiling face of Carleton, representing Illinois. It's not the "Real Estate Investor's Hall of Fame" but the "Real Estate Hall of Fame".

Now click on the Home tab and you'll come to http://www.realestatefame.com/index.htm . If you scroll to the bottom you'll see what you have to do to get admitted: submit your personal information for review (your years in sales, average yearly sales, and your "community involvement"... that's all), and then fork over $150. Don't you want to use the convenient online form to apply for induction?

Who's Who in Real Estate

Sheets also brags that he is listed in Who's Who in Real Estate. I had not heard of that either, unless you count the Who's Who in Real Estate that was published for just one year, 1983, by Warren, Gorham & Lamont's Real Estate Review.

Sheets does count that Who's Who. I received a free copy of it because the publisher was the first guy I wrote for in real estate, Bob George. Sheets is, indeed, listed on page 639.

When it came out, I wrote an article in which I called it “Who Isn’t Who in Real Estate” because it left out such real estate giants as Gerald Hines, Trammell Crow, Harry Helmsley, and Bob Bruss. (I’m on page 574.)

There are only two legitimate Who’s Whos: Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World. These are bought by libraries for reference purposes. All other Who’s Whos are overpriced books which are sold almost exclusively to the biographees listed in the books. They are generally compiled from trade association membership lists and such. Who's Who in Real Estate probably sent an application to every SRS so Sheets’ inclusion in that book is most likely just an echo of his receiving an SRS designation.

Sheets says, “According to Who’s Who in Real Estate, he has bought and sold more than $25 million of real estate using creative, no money down techniques.” That must be another Who's Who in Real Estate. The one published by Real Estate Review in 1983 says no such thing. I’d like to see a copy of the Who's Who in Real Estate he is referring to, and I’d like to know who published it and when.

So Sheets brags that he was awarded a defunct designation by a defunct organization, that he is listed in a defunct Who’s Who, and that he was inducted into an unknown Hall of Fame. I think Sheets should, to use the classic phrase, ”update his resume.”

Review of Sheets' booklet Creative Tax Strategies

Sheets’ No Down Payment program includes a booklet called Creative Tax Strategies , A Real Estate Investor’s Guide to Tax Reform,which he describes as “Continually revised to include the latest changes in the tax law.”

Really? I would not have guessed that. Creative Tax Strategies is a slop job of a book on real estate tax law. If Sheets turned this in as part of a university course or real estate or tax law, the professor would give him an F and chew him out. Tellingly, Sheets did not put his name on it. All the other stuff he sent me was “Copyright by Carleton Sheets.” This is the only one that is “Copyright by the Professional Education Institute [Sheets’ book and tape selling company].” I am not surprised that Sheets did not put his name on this embarrassment. Nor am I surprised that no one else did either. Maybe he should have called it Creative Tax Strategy Talking Points.

Like all of Sheets’ stuff, it has a pretty, full-color cover. And the copyright page shows copyrights for every year from 1985 through 1998. But it appears to me to be a booklet that someone wrote around 1987 as a description of the Tax Reform Act of 1986. A couple of new paragraphs have been pasted in since 1987, but it most definitely has not been “Continually revised to include the latest changes in the tax law.”

The booklet’s first sentence mentions the Tax Reform Act of 1986 and the Revenue Act of 1987. That’s very professional and authoritative, as befits a booklet about those laws. But the booklet’s copyright is 1998. What about all the tax laws since 1987? None are mentioned. Nada. Zip. Although someone has physically pasted in some post-1987 depreciation schedules in small print so they would only have to change one page per table.

Creative Tax Strategies does use another tax law name to impress us---on page 2. But they should have left well enough alone. Page 2’s first sentence refers to “the Tax Reform Act of 1981 (TEFRA).” Even a non-tax expert ought to recognize that TEFRA is not the abbreviation for “Tax Reform Act.” Tax Reform Act is abbreviated as TRA. Duh!

Furthermore, there was no such thing as the Tax Reform Act of 1981 either. The tax law in 1981 was called the “Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981” (ERTA). That was Reagan’s first big tax law, the one that gave us 15-year accelerated cost recovery. It was in all the papers, except, apparently, the ones Sheets reads. By the way, there actually was a TEFRA: The “Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982.”

Sheets' copyright 1998 Creative Tax Strategies is strangely out of date as regards the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. That’s the one that replaced the two-year rollover and over-55 exclusions on your residence with the $250,000-per-person capital-gains exclusion on residences. Sheets’ 1998 booklet makes no mention of the 1997 Act. Indeed, it says the two-year rollover and over-55 provisions are still in effect, which they are not. They were both repealed by the 1997 Act. True, a one-page "Special Tax Update" letter from Sheets, which briefly mentions the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, did fall out of my Creative Tax Strategies booklet. Sheets had tucked, but not bound, it inside the cover. But I still do not understand why the bound book has copyrights for every year from 1985 through 1998, but mentions no tax law since the Revenue Act of 1987.

Book buyers often ask what the copyright date is on a book before they buy it. They prefer current books. Only two of my ten books have 1998 copyrights. It’s a lot of work to keep them up to date even though I am a full-time writer. But Sheets, who says he is a full-time investor, somehow manages to have a 1998 copyright on every single book he sent me. I guess it's easier when you only change the copyright page.

Writing a book on real estate tax law and keeping it up to date is a vast effort. I know, I have written 18 editions of Aggressive Tax Avoidance for Real Estate Investors. Sheets’ Creative Tax Strategies, on the other hand, is a half vast effort.

Review of Sheets' The Painless Guide to Profitable Property Management

I have a problem with the title of this book-and-cassette package. Property management is a real pain. Knowledge can make it less painful. But painless? Forget it. Gurus who use this sort of phraseology provide more hype than help.

Like all the books I received from Sheets in 1998, this one is copyrighted 1998. The about the author page says, “He was recently named to Who's Who in Real Estate...” “Recently?” That book was only published for one year: 1983. So far, Sheets has told us that property management is painless and that 15 years is “recent.” Not a good start.

The book is double-spaced with large margins. See my B.S. artist article for more on the blank-white-space crowd.

On page 1-3, he discusses “Using outside management.” That’s easy. Don’t. Manage property yourself or hire salaried employees to do it. NEVER hire outside percent-of-the-gross guys. Indeed, Sheets mentions that he lost $5,000 when such a manager embezzled from a property he part owned. That would be typical. When I was a property manager, both my predecessor and my successor took kickbacks. But Sheets only says you should be careful when you hire an outside manager. The correct advice is never hire outside property managers.

On page 1-9, Sheets says, “It’s becoming an increasingly sticky situation to discriminate against children so check your state laws before you do.” Folks, it is not only “sticky” to discriminate against children, it is absolutely illegal. And checking your state law won't help much. It’s true that state laws vary on the subject. And it’s true that state laws used to matter. But that was before the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act---of 1988! Does anyone need any more proof that Carleton Sheets’ super current copyright dates are pure bull?

In the next sentence, he says not to discriminate because of race or religion. “You can get some free room and board for that.” Jail? Actually, you cannot go to jail for discrimination. It’s not even illegal in some cases, like an owner-occupied dwelling. And the penalty is never jail time, only fines. There are other reasons not to discriminate by race or religion---like it's stupid and violates the Golden Rule.

Page 1-10. Sheets says never buy master-metered buildings unless you can convert them to individual meters. My management book has a chapter on why he's wrong.

Page 1-11. Sheets says not to provide drapes or to permit tenants to use sheets or aluminum foil for drapes. I agree with the no-sheets-or-foil policy. But he seems not to understand that whether the landlord provides drapes is a function of the local market. I never provided them in NJ. I had to in TX. Sheets claims to have much experience, but it must all be in one area.

OK I’ve had enough. Only one chapter into the book and most of it is either wrong or lame. To learn about property management, read my book, How to Manage Residential Property for Maximum Cash Flow and Resale Value, and/or Leigh Robinson's book, Landlording.

Review of Sheets’ No Down Payment course

I was going to review the first chapter of Sheets’ No Down Payment course, but the initial chapters seem to be about a different subject than the title. They are extremely general discussions of goals, the nature of real estate and stuff like that. Most investment books are really just investment dictionaries that are not in alphabetical order, the beginning of Sheets' No Down Payment course appears to fall into that category. I had to go all the way to chapter 11 before I found some discussion of buying property with no down payment.

To an extent, the initial chapters seem to be motivational. Promising real estate how-to information and delivering motivational material is one of the items on my B.S. Artist Detection Checklist.

Technique #1 on page 11-5 has you buying a $50,000 house by getting a $27,000 new mortgage from an institution like a bank and the seller taking back a second mortgage for $23,000. Does this work? No. Although Sheets says, “Simply obtain a new first mortgage for $27,000...,” it is far from simple and most likely is impossible.

Mortgage applications ask you where you are getting the down payment. If you answer, “I am not making any down payment. The seller is taking back a mortgage for the balance of the price,” your mortgage application will be rejected. Over a century of experience, mortgage lenders have learned that it is not prudent to make a mortgage loan where the borrower has no investment or equity in the property. The default rate on such mortgages is ruinously high. In general, regulated mortgage lenders are prohibited by law and/or by regulations from making such a loan. See my article on nothing down.

Sheets says also that, “Sellers have been known to join the buyer in signing a note and mortgage...” Comets have been known to pass near the earth, too, but I am not sure which is more common, comets or sellers cosigning on the buyer’s note. Actually, sellers will do that in some cases in special situations, like the buyer is their adult child. In theory, there are some other situations where it might happen. I have never seen or heard of such a deal in 31 years in real estate.

Sheets says, “Many banks, but not all ...” will not go for this deal. In fact, no bank will go for this deal. I invite Mr. Sheets to name a bank that will. A list of such banks would be worth the money Sheets charges for his course. Until he produces such a list, this “technique” is not worth the paper it is written on.

I had this same discussion with Joe Land when he and I appeared on 60 Minutes and were subsequently interviewed by Time magazine. Land said there were such banks, but refused to name any citing “privacy,” even after Time promised to keep the identity of the banks secret in its article. Robert Allen, author of the book Nothing Down, also says what Sheets says. When I dug up the documents on one of the deals where he actually used this “technique,” the lender was Bank of America. Their written policy at the time, which I have a copy of, said they would make no mortgage loans where there was any secondary financing, let alone nothing-down financing. In that deal, Allen had the second that was taken back by the seller recorded one day after the closing on the sale and the first mortgage. This is called a “silent second” and is done to reduce the chances that the first mortgage lender will find out about it. In other words, the bank making the first mortgage loan did not agree to the nothing-down second, rather they were apparently told there was none.

If you try to use Sheets’ “Technique 1,” you will be rejected by all institutional lenders. You will then be tempted to lie to a lender. If you succumb to that temptation, you could end up in jail with a felony conviction. The statute in question; Title 18 United State Code, Section 1014; is quoted just above the line where you sign your name on the mortgage application.

Sheets suggests helpfully that the recalcitrant bank might agree if you get a mortgage against equity you have in another property you own and use the proceeds of that loan as your down payment on the new purchase. I agree that they are likely to go for that. In order to do that, you would have to have an extraordinarily large percentage of equity in the other property. The lender will only loan up to about 75% for such purposes unless it is a home equity loan. But since Sheets’ course is aimed at beginners, why is he advocating a technique that can only be used by experienced, multi-property investors? Also, how is it a no down-payment deal if you borrow against a property you already own and use the proceeds as a down payment on a new property? Your overall loan-to-value ratio on all your properties combined after this “no down payment” deal would be around 80% at best. That's hardly a no-down-payment situation. Besides, did you really need an expensive infomercial course to learn that you could borrow against a property you already own to get down payment money to buy another property? If you're that ignorant of real estate finance, you should have a legal guardian appointed to take over your financial affairs.

Sheets also suggests you get a partner if the banks won’t agree. This is the universal fall-back position of all nothing-down gurus. Since partners are unregulated, they can do whatever they want. Accordingly, neither I nor anyone else can prove to you that you cannot get a partner who will agree to put up the down payment for your nothing-down deal. But I can tell you that it is very hard to find such partners. And, once again, I question why anyone would need Carleton Sheets to tell them that if they don’t have the money for a down payment, they might try getting a partner to put it up. When my mom bought her house, she didn't have enough for the down payment. She went in partners with her mother who lived with us. Carleton Sheets was 24 at the time so she did not get the idea from him. Either my mom, who worked as a secretary, was a financial genius, or you don’t need Sheets to tell you about asking someone to partner with you in a purchase.

Sheets says still another way to do this is just to buy subject to the existing mortgage. Actually, that's the correct terminology. Sheets incorrectly uses the phrase “as is” to mean “subject to.” Anyone who has completed a real estate salespersons license course knows that.

Earlier I said his book is largely just a real estate dictionary that is not in alphabetical order. Make that an incorrect real estate dictionary that is not in alphabetical order. Kind of amazing how he can sell an incorrect dictionary that is not in alphabetical order for far more money than they get for correct real estate dictionaries that are in alphabetical order. It's a measure of how slick a salesman Sheets is, or how colossally stupid his customers are.

Also, Sheets names this technique: “Obtain a new mortgage to pay off existing loans and provide down payment money.” But before he moves onto the next technique, he is telling you to just buy subject to the existing first mortgage and have the seller take back a mortgage for the remaining 75%. That's the exact opposite of what is promised in the title of the technique.

The vast majority of existing mortgages contain a clause that says the lender may make you pay off the mortgage immediately if you sell the property. See my discussion of that issue by clicking here. In other words, this technique does not work unless the existing mortgage is one of the rare few that has no due-on-sale clause.

Here's a summary of my analysis of Sheets’ “Technique Number 1:”

Sub technique Is it really a no-money-down technique? Is this technique sufficiently obscure or complex that a layman would need to pay a guru to tell him about it? Does this technique work in the real world?
A. Institutional first and seller second for balance Yes Maybe No
B. Seller co-signs buyer's mortgage Yes Yes Almost never
C. Borrow against another property you own to come up with down payment  No No Yes
D. Get a partner to put up the down payment No No Yes, but it's very hard to find such partners outside your circle of friends and relatives
E. Buy subject to the existing first mortgage and have seller take back a second for the balance Yes Maybe Very risky in the vast majority of cases because of seller's continuing liability and risk of enforcement of due-on-sale clause

Technique #2 is really just technique #1E only with a sweeter interest pot for the seller. Sheets says to lower the price and raise the interest rate. In his example, you offer $95,000 to a seller who wants $100,000 but you give him 15% interest instead of the 10% he asked for at the $100,000 price. That’s a bit asymmetrical. You lower the price 5% and raise the amount of interest you are paying by 50%!

If you read my article on nothing down, you know it’s hard to have positive cash flow even with a 20% down payment. The less you put down, the bigger the mortgage. The bigger the mortgage, the bigger the mortgage payment. So if you have negative cash flow with 20% down you have a lot of negative cash flow at 0% down. Now Sheets wants to increase your interest rate by half! Where are you going to get all the money to make those payments? This is like telling you you can increase the sales in your candy store by cutting prices below cost. You sure can, until you go bankrupt.

In addition, Sheets says to pay interest only for five years then pay the entire mortgage off at that time. That’s bad advice. You should avoid all balloon payments, especially those that fall due in five years.

Sheets says that if the payments result in negative cash flow (If?!), arrange to pay only part of the interest currently and add the rest to the balloon payment. That’s called negative amortization. It means your debt goes up every month, instead of down. There is an extremely high probability that you will default on this loan if it is interest only and an even higher probability that you will default if there is also negative amortization.

Sheets says this requires that the first mortgage be assumable. This is a statement I used to make in the seventies. I don’t make it anymore because assumable mortgages are now almost entirely a thing of the past. It is a bit cruel to send beginners out looking for assumable mortgages. It's like a snipe hunt. They will be laughed at by everyone in the real estate business. “Hey, Fred! This guy wants an assumable mortgage. We have any of those? Sorry, buddy. You’re only about twenty years too late.”

Technique #3 is a wraparound mortgage. It has an intriguing name to laymen. A wraparound is just a seller second mortgage. Instead of stating the amount of the second mortgage in the normal way, in a wrap, the amount of the mortgage is the sum of the second and first mortgages. Typically, the buyer sends one payment to the seller and he, in turn, pays the first mortgage. Wraparound mortgages are meaningless unless the seller is trying to use the Stonecrest line of court decisions to avoid paying taxes on excess loans over basis. But they are big at real estate seminars because of their funny, exotic name.

Technique #17

In the June, 1985 issue of Real Estate Investing Letter newsletter, I wrote an article called “Seller loans are junkier than junk bonds.” The second paragraph of that article says,

I’m about to tell you about an unethical, unconscionable, illegal scam that uses junk bonds. I am NOT advocating it by any means. I’m just trying to make a point about seller loans and “creative” financing.

Guess what Carleton Sheets’ Technique #17 is? Correct. It’s my “unethical, unconscionable, illegal scam.” Only instead of using junk bonds, which sell at a large discount off their face value, he advocates using zero-coupon bonds, which also sell at a large discount off their face value. In each case you buy a bond which says it’s worth $100,000, but which is worth far less because of the credit of the bond issuer or the delay in getting paid off. After buying the bond for, say, $56,000, you then tell the seller of the property you want to buy that the bond you are using for down payment is worth its face value of $100,000.

Email about Sheets

Here is an email I received from an unhappy Sheets customer.

“Dear John: I wrote to you back in March regarding Carlton Sheets' not refunding me the shipping charges on a refund of a purchase. I did get a refund of the main purchase price but never did get my $20 back for the freight he charged, so I passed it off as a learning experience and thank you for your web site which saved me from even a more costly experience.
Well, I noticed on my May 18, 2001, bank statement an unauthorized purchase, dated May 4th, for $84 from a MWI*FINANCIAL at 1-800-393-0115. I telephoned the 800# and spoke with a Wilford with Money Masters which is connected with Carlton Sheets. I told this Wilford character that I never ever authorized the $84 purchase and demanded that he credit my Bank Visa Card immediately and that I did not appreciate what his company did. He then tried to convince me to keep the purchase (which I had yet to even receive) and they would knock off $20 or whatever. I told him again that I was absolutely not interested if they were to even give it for free. That conversation took place on May 29th, so I will be checking with the bank soon to see if he indeed did have my account credited. Bottom line is that your web site home page WARNING regarding these shysters should be adhered to and they should be watched very carefully. I hope this helps in convincing other would be victims to be on the lookout. Again, I hope your readers benefit from this information and most definitely your web site.” Darlow Madge