"It feels amazing to offer a homeowner a creative solution to their mortgage problem and to let them know that they're not going to be thrown out on the street. That they're going to be able to stay in their homes, be able to live a normal life and be able to answer the telephone. So for us, we're about helping homeowners, even if it's one mortgage at a time. We believe that everyone needs a second chance. And we're here to help!"
- Amed Hazel
Kivo: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your "backstory"?
Absolutely! I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, where I went to Baltimore City Public Schools. Before I could actually graduate, I became a father, and by the time my senior year in high school, I had two children. I had to enter the workforce doing a bunch of odd jobs and eventually, I became a firefighter. I worked as a firefighter for several years and I loved it. One day during a routine driving exercise a dump truck crashed into the fire truck while I was driving it. I got injured and had to retire from the fire department. Feeling lost and not knowing what the next chapter of my life was going to unfold, I began researching real estate. One gift that I received from my father and that is to be an avid reader. I would pretty much read everything that I got my hands on, so I've always been a self-educator.
I became really proficient at investing in real estate and making a lot of money, but what I realized was investing in real estate, the strategies that I was using, which at the time was wholesaling and short-selling, that I was bumping my head a lot up against the banks. I decided to investigate and research how banks made money. I realized that banks make a lot of money off of funding mortgages. That was when I had my epiphany and my “eureka” moment that that's what I should be doing as well. If it's working for the banks, and we're the greatest nation on the globe, then it'll probably work for me no matter what level I do it on.
Kivo: Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I'll never forget after doing a lot of research and study on mortgage notes in the finance world, that when I got my eureka moment and discovered the power behind investing in mortgage notes, that I jumped up from behind my computer and it was like magic. My feet just started moving, and I danced for about 30 minutes. I probably looked really weird, but I danced for about 30 minutes. My wife kept saying, "What is going on? What is going on? What are you so happy about? Why are you dancing?" After about 30 minutes of dancing, I was covered in sweat, and I told my wife. I said, "I've discovered the art of investing in mortgage notes." Then after giving me a blank stare for about 15 seconds, which seemed like an eternity, she asked me, "How are you going to make money with it?" I had to respond, "I don't know yet."
Kivo: So what exactly does your company do?
We purchase distressed assets from banks, hedge funds, and other sellers. We looked to offer the homeowner creative solutions to help them get back on track and rebuild their lives. Now for us, this can be really profitable but we look to really help the homeowner get back on their feet and begin to live again. This is really important to us because I've seen good people go through really hard times because no one was creative enough to give them a different structured solution.
Kivo: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We stand out because we really care about people. We truly care about people and we look to understand the situations that they're in and how they got there.
I remember that there was a home that we were looking to purchase the mortgage on. Well, my wife wanted to purchase the mortgage on this home. It didn't look like this was an investment that would make sense to me but my wife really wanted to help this particular homeowner.
We didn't even know if the property was occupied but once we purchased the mortgage and got in contact with the homeowner, we realized through speaking to the homeowner that the homeowner had been sick for several months and in the hospital with cancer, and that was the reason they weren't paying their mortgage.
So it wasn't as if this homeowner was just a deadbeat but they had been ill. This is what makes us stand out. We go in and then offer creative solutions to help the homeowner get back on track and be able to live in their home, make the payments, and get caught up; as well as allowing us to give an amazing return to our investors.
Kivo: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
One of my mentors, his name is Matthew Burke. He helped me scale my business to another level by showing me how to actually create a fund and how to structure the marketing and structure the way investors get paid, so he's helped me think on a totally different level.
Kivo: What are your "5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became a CEO" and why.
Some of the things that I wish I had been told about being a CEO is:
1. How challenging it can be. It's challenging to keep up with industry standards, keeping employees and vendors organized, as well as the constant and never-ending improvement as it relates to my own personal self-development. Keeping all of these things together can be a challenge for a CEO.
2. Organization. Knowing where documents and reports are kept, as well as having systems in place to keep all of these things organized, and making sure that the systems are functioning optimally.
3. Networking. Attending events, conferences, having one on one meetings, and keeping a tight schedule. Especially when it relates to traveling and being on the road, and then giving myself downtime to recuperate in-between events, and then going back to keeping all of that data organized.
4. You have to have great listening skills. You have to be able to listen to employees and their needs. You have to understand the vendors and be able to listen to them and deal with their changes and their own personal policies at their company and understand how it relates to my company. I have to listen to investors as well. I have to listen to what they expect and make sure that there's alignment between us so that all parties benefit.
5. Last but not least, I wish someone had told me about having emotional control. This is a skillset as well as a gift. You have to have emotional control when dealing with people, not being quick to anger, and you have to have emotional control as it relates to dealing with the market. Because as the market shifts, my mindset has to shift with it or else I'll begin to lose emotional control. This is where you see some CEOs and other investors begin to panic because of shifts in the market. Having the knowledge and an awareness of being emotionally in-control is paramount.
When you separate these things individually, they're easy to understand, but as you flow throughout a day and you have to deal with these, let's say, five challenges interchangeably, then you really have to become a master at being a CEO and knowing what lies ahead.
Kivo: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)
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I would love to have lunch with or meet with Warren Buffet. Of course, I think he charges probably more than a million dollars, right now, per lunch. So I have to get my lunch money together!
Mark Cuban. Mark Cuban, I believe, invests in distressed assets, just like I do. I think he has a fund, as well. It would be huge to pick his brain and get his feedback
Kevin Harrington, I know he's an investor in distressed assets. I'm really kind of one or two away from Kevin. I'm not sure if I'm too early, yet, to approach Kevin.
Another big name in the business I would like to meet is Michael Dario. He's the director of capital markets for Condor Capital Corporation. I’m sure we would have a lot to talk about.
And I'd really love to have lunch with any athlete that's looking for a safe investment vehicle for their retirement. So, I'm open to having lunch with any athlete or celebrity that is really, truly, and seriously thinking about their future.
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