Bill Gatten “Wealth Guru” Land Trusts: A Closer Look
Listening to Bill Gatten’s presentation on his website takes me back to a few seminars that had me convinced I’d be wealthy, which is a great atmosphere to get ya to pony up the good ole plastic for some more learning opportunities.
I’d be the guy in the crowd taking copious notes… thinking I now had the world by the tail only to find I’d never even look at my notes once I was back in my hustle at home.
My big brother always called seminars like these warm baths.
Ya know what he meant, right?
It’s like taking a dip in a remote hot spring to soothe those tired achy muscles, and
who couldn’t use a little soothing of our sick, tired, achy bank accounts.
With that said, it doesn’t mean I’m down on Gatten’s educational resources… just gonna take a rain check for now.
‘cause a random dude with some mad online marketing skills showed me a better way, and after tossing my financial cookies on the last real estate investing roller coaster, I’m optin’ out.
Let’s continue our conversation on Bill Gaten.
So who is Bill Gatten?
He specializes in all aspects of real estate investing. He has created a claim to fame for himself through his writing of a book entitled Making It Big in Creative Real Estate and Keeping it This Time.
I know what that’s all about.
I still remember the mortgage company’s sticker on the door saying that the property was vacant. Say hello FORECLOSURE.
It didn’t take long to realize:
Buying real estate seems like it’s the easiest part. Keeping it can be much tougher. He created a product call the equity holdings land trust system. Formally a banker sales trainer and businessman, he created his own financial services company.
He hails from the little or no money down investing camp and encourages owning investments and appreciating real estate assets.
What does Bill Gatten Offer?
No Down No New Loan and more…
Gatten’s primary vehicle for training, coaching, and sales of products is his website called Open-Door Wealth Management. This can be found at landtrust.net.
Gatten promotes his tool called the EHtrust. This is a trademarked name for what he describes as “as expedient and legally prudent transfer style where an interest in a title holding trust is conveyed, versus a conveyance of the properties title or deed.”
In an article on REIclub.com, Gatten explains a land trust deal. You agree to have the current owner place the property in a title-holding trust in his/her own names for a few years. The trust will continue then until you can either — 1) sell the property and pay off the loan, or until 2) you can refinance it in your own name and hang onto the property.
This of course results in holding a property rather than flipping it for a quick profit.
The section on his website on the EH trust covers benefits to the seller, the buyer, and the broker.
Gatten describes how an EH trust works, as well as about creative financing, benefits, and the history of Open-Door Wealth Management with the EH trust.
Gatten describes benefits for the buyer as the quiet assumption of any loan, a transaction with income tax benefits, a process that is legal, safe and quiet (without the necessity of public notification), the best kind of asset protection possible (where property is protected from creditors, judgments, tax liens, and probate), and where the property ownership is hidden from public view.
The seller can also benefit from this sort of arrangement. Disposition costs are minimized and the seller does not have to jump through hoops for standard renting, leasing, or optioning out.
It’s also an easy landlording option, taxes can be deferred, assets can be shielded from state and federal tax liens and other credits or judgments, and it’s often the most logical way out for a seller who is in trouble with the mortgage. It’s an alternative to the short sale or foreclosure.
Gatten has structured part of his real estate investing education as a membership-based program. In the past, the member registration fee was $3000. Now it is a little over $2000.
There is a note on the membership page that anyone who want to participate in marketing (i.e. selling) Gatten’s programs, products, seminars, and systems can sign up to do this and receive a 50% share of the net profit. Signing up for this involves paying a nonrefundable enrollment fee of $49.95 and a $49.95 monthly fee.
Membership in Gatten’s network gets participants a number of benefits, including the following:
- One-on-one lifetime coaching and mentoring
- Biweekly teleconference entering
- The QuickStart success pack with all books, recordings, and sales aids
- Members-only access to the national membership roster (supposedly 11,000 members)
- Open communication between participants and Gatten’s office
- A book by Bill Gatten
- Paperwork done for proposals, offers, counteroffers, and options
- A do-it-yourself web-based trust document creation and set-up service
The Open-Door Wealth Management site has an online store where you can purchase several products.
The first is a book by Bill Gatten called The Fortune in Free Real Estate. The system described in this book, according to Gatten, incorporates a simple title holding third-party trustee and multiple director-beneficiaries. It provides Realtors and investors, buyers and home sellers alike a unique and totally legal approach to seller assisted ownership transfer.
Supposedly this is entirely without the risks so often associated with seller-assisted financing. This book is a free download at the Open-door wealth management site.
The Go for the Gold OWDM Quickstart Success Pack Is available for $997. Minimal info is provided.
Jim Banks probate profits course is available for $1495. There isn’t a lot of information given about this course. The picture shows a bunch of CDs and several manuals and booklets.
A mini-course is available for $227, called Making it Big and Keeping It This Time! This is a course by Bill Gatton which includes a 350-page mini-EH trust training manual and a fast reference disk.
The ODWM quick start success pack Is for sale for $997. It contains samples, forms, advertising ideas, telephone scripts, tips on getting a business set up and started, and goal-setting parameters. It also includes a full audio recording of a typical two-day EH trust weekend workshop.
The online store page is also where you can find blog posts. The most recent blog was posted in April 2014.
No events are described or scheduled on the events page.
At this website, you can also find Gatten’s various services: estate and trust service, legal services, business services, and tax services.
Legal services are basically litigation support.
Business services include small business accounting, strategic business planning, succession planning, bank financing, business valuation, cash flow management, forensic accounting, nonprofit organizations, part-time CFO services, and new business formation.
Open-door Wealth Management and Bill Gatten have a limited YouTube presence. The most recent video was posted 10 months before this writing. The total number of videos is less than 30.
I found several podcast sites where Gatten has been interviewed or posted podcasts. These included thenorrisgroup.com/blog/radio, discreetinvestors.com, and guestmatch.com.
Gotten has one book available on Amazon. This is called The Fortune in Free Real Estate, the same the book mentioned above, available on his own website for free.
Another of Bill Gatten’s products Is the NARS PacTrust. This product, as well as the EH trust system, helps investors safely and securely transfer new real estate loans. The two systems also protect investors and property from bankruptcy claims, lawsuits, tax liens, probate involvement, and creditor judgments.
Bill Gatten: A Scam? Complaint Review
Nah, I don’t think so…
I didn’t find much in the way of independent reviews–either positive or negative–of Bill Gatten or Open-door Wealth Management.
I did find a short thread on BiggerPockets.com (from 7 years ago). One person had just taken Gatten’s 2.5-day workshop and wanted to know if other people had used the system with success. Bill McKeith from Portland, Oregon, replied that he had used the Gatten system several times. He also said:
It is comprehensive but before you learn all the ins/outs, I suggest you find a very experienced, local escrow officer and discuss your plan with him/her. Find out just exactly how the title company will treat your transaction (or if they will even handle it!). My personal experience is that due to abuse of Land trusts by those who try to short cut everything, the title companies are simply declining to insure land trust transactions. Not that it’s illegal or anything, it’s simply a business decision that many title companies have made- that they will simply not provide title insurance.
I also found a legal document published in 2007 on the website of the Ohio government Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing. It was titled Land Trust Schemes: Ohio Real Estate Commission action against xxxxx. In this document, the case was outlined, and then an extensive summary of events posted by the defendant (xxxxx). At the closing of the summary, he said this:
I have gone back to engineering and continue to pay off the debt incurred by this endeavor. Our involvement with Mr. Gatten and his trust system is regrettable. The experience with Mr. Gatten and his system has been a very negative one for us and we have no current or planned future involvement in real estate investing.
This is the only negative review I found.
Gatten and his company don’t show up on any of the gripe sites. Neither are they registered with the Better Business Bureau. This isn’t necessarily negative; it just means he’s not registered.
To sum up, it’s not completely clear how active Gatten is currently (referencing the empty Events page and the year-old YouTube videos). However his website is mobile-friendly which indicates that it’s being updated, so there’s somebody alive on the other side of the webpage.
It appears that Gatten’s land-trust niche is fairly narrow, i.e. he doesn’t blow the horn of the flip-happy, make-a-quick-profit investor/educator. It’s what has worked for him, and what he educates investors about.
He has won awards and recognition for his contributions to the field of real estate investing; you can hear him on podcasts on reputable sites and stations; his website has solid information.
But there’s this bothersome thing of the commission action and the poor guy who lost his shirt doing Gatten’s system. Stuff like that gives me pause.
So there you have it: Bill Gatten and land trusts. Maybe it’s for you and maybe not. If you sign up for Gatten’s stuff, as with any of these educators who make a lot of their money by selling your information, keep your eyes open and be smart.