How One Mom Bought 40 Homes With Camille Davis

Updated: Feb 28

Sometimes, a book can be just the spark someone needs to change their life. This is the story of how one book inspired one mother on the journey in real estate, as she brought 40 homes into the fold. Renee Williams talks real estate with medical professional, mother and real-estate investor Camille Davis. We get a peek into Camille’s journey from nurse to real estate investor as she tells her story and her working model that allowed her to buy 40 homes. Curious? Learn more by tuning in

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How One Mom Bought 40 Homes With Camille Davis

We're going to do something a little bit different. I'm going to let you in on the future plans for this show. As you all know, I am a lover of all things real estate and real estate investing. As I grow my investment portfolio, I want to have a way to share that with everyone. Our focus is on women, real estate, team leaders, brokers and agents. I'm going to be doing a little bit of a pivot coming up.

I want my realtors to stay with me to continue to read as we move forward but you will know of some changes in the future episodes. It's going to start with this episode. I am talking with Camille Davis or Cami. Cami is a real estate investor. She is a mom of four. She and her husband owned twenty single-family homes. She's bought and sold a lot more than that over the years. She specializes in something that is called subject-to real estate. We are going to learn all about that from Cami. Stay tuned for a huge announcement that is coming up in our very next episode. Here we go right now with Cami.


We’re with Cami Davis. How are you, ma’am?

AER 24 | Real Estate Journey
Real Estate Journey: Everybody wants to live in Kingwood and there's not a lot of homes available.

I am great. I'm excited to be here and to have met Renee. Renee, there was something that drew me to you from the very beginning and I feel like this was meant to be.

Me, too. I feel like it was meant to be as well. I did a little bit of an intro about you. Typically, we talk about something related to agents, team leaders, brokers, their passive income, the operations. I hinted when I started doing the show that I love real estate investing, and I love it as a passive income vehicle that team leaders, brokers, agents can use to exit production and have some money coming in. Although, Cami, you are not an agent, I know your husband is, you qualify by default. You’re married to a real estate agent. Tell us a little bit about your real estate investing career. How did you get started with all of it?

I don't know how long we want to make this story, but I was working at MD Anderson Cancer Center. I was a nurse and I ended up getting pregnant with our first child. I was on maternity leave and I knew that I probably wouldn't go back. I knew I was going to stay home with my child. I didn't let them know that. I was only on maternity leave, working from home. They offered me another position, and this was my dream position. It was social work. I thought I would love social work. It was a hard decision for me to quit my job and stay home but I knew that it was the right decision.

Your thoughts start and you don't sometimes realize that they're starting. That's when it starts to become action.

I ended up quitting and staying home with my kids. It did drive me crazy. I had no idea. I didn't know that I was such a business person. I never even thought I liked business. My whole life was in a medical field. I was in the medical field. That was the only thing I knew from school. I thought business sounded boring but when I was home, my mother-in-law was editing a book from a real estate investor and she was helping him edit it. She sent me the book and said, “Can you read this?” I had all this time on my hands because I had this little baby that slept all the time. I was bored to death because it was my first child. I have all this time when he's napping.

I read this book. Honestly, I didn't understand hardly anything in this book. I remember vaguely it saying, “Get the deed.” I'm thinking, “I get it. Get the deed.” At the end of the book, it talked about tax sales and that Houston, Texas was the best place to do tax sales in. It talked about how the county will foreclose and it forecloses out a mortgage and that it wipes out all the other things on the property. Except for like a mechanics lane but we don't have to get into all that. I was like, “What?” You can go to a tax auction and buy a property and all you're paying for is the taxes. I was like, “That seems way too good to be true,” but I learned a lot.

It was harder than I thought it was. You had to go with the cash. These properties were going higher at the other auctions that I went to. They were going higher than that first one that I saw. I thought, “I got to catch these before they hit the auction,” because this is so competitive. From there, I started driving and finding these properties that were empty.

When I drove, this was in my neighborhood. There were twenty empty homes. I started noticing all these homes and I'm like, “I'm going to write them down.” I started writing down all these homes, then I went home, started researching. I was so intrigued that I could find all the owners of these homes on the Harris County website.

Let me make sure that I understand what you’re saying. First, the first experience that you had to unpack this a little bit. The tax sales that you went to had a house in Kingwood, Texas for $20,000.

AER 24 | Real Estate Journey
Real Estate Journey: The home was in perfect condition. There was nothing wrong with it. The owner packed up and moved because she couldn't make the payment anymore.

Someone bought it for $20,000.

If you’re not familiar with this part of Texas. Kingwood, Texas, is a beautiful subdivision that is North of Houston but is now part of the City of Houston. Beautiful homes in Kingwood. They’re stately and older. Some of them are older construction but wonderful properties. If you pick one up for $20,000, it’s crazy.

This was going to be a great little house.

This was pre-Harvey, before the flooding and all.

This was 2011 or at the end of 2010, is when I started doing that.

Tell me the next thing. I have a question about the kids. At that time, it’s not abnormal for it to take some time between the time we’re first exposed to something until we do it. It’s important when we talk about our exit strategy or having passive income. You’re not going to run out and buy the first investment property.

As soon as somebody tells you about real estate investing, you’re not going to go buy a house the next day. Ninety-nine percent of us won’t do that. It’s going to take time for us to evolve, learn, and get the education that we need. The fact that you started with one baby and you had two kids later and you’re going to your first auction is normal.

It takes a little bit of time.

It does take time to pick up and to learn and to understand the vernacular, the verbiage, to get up the courage to go, to even spend the time to do it. The next thing I wanted to ask about was riding around with the kids in the car, which is a great idea if you’re looking for empty properties. In your neighborhood, you were saying that there were several homes and that was around what year?

If you already own the property, you can always refinance. You can always sell the house. There are options but most people are so scared of it. They never do it.

My son was born in 2006, so I got the book in 2006, when I read. I didn't realize that this was all playing in my mind. Your thoughts start and you don't sometimes realize that they're starting. That's when it starts to become action. That was 2006. I went to the tax auction in and my other baby was born in 2008. I went to the tax auction in 2008 but I had done a lot of research.

I've learned how to look at these properties. At that point, I started looking at podcasts or anything that I could get for free. I would google and I'd watch lots of podcasts. It wasn’t even podcasts then, it was webinars, but they’re always trying to sell you something at the end. I would never buy the stuff they would sell at the end. I would write down all the information they would give me.

That’s the point. You can get lots of free resources. You can get a whole education on anything by using YouTube, podcasts, anything that's free.

Even only YouTube. I learned how to do real estate on YouTube. Call me the YouTube Girl. That was 2008. In 2008, I went to the tax sale and I realized, “This isn't going to be as easy as I thought. I have all these other people buying. I got to figure out something else.” That's when that book, I only read at one time. I started thinking, it says, “Get the deed.” I'm like, “How do I get the deed?” That was about 2010, so I started driving. When I found these homes, it was 2010. The book was in 2006, 2010 is when I started driving. I wasn't specifically looking for empty homes when I put them on the car but then I started noticing all the empty homes.

That’s called a reticular activator. It's a fancy word. It's almost like when you buy a red Ford Mustang. You suddenly notice how many red Ford Mustangs there are on the road because that part of your brain is activated to notice things now, or if I say to you now like, “Don't think about your feet inside your sock or don't think about your feet and your shoe.” What do you think? Are you going to think about your feet in your shoe, how it feels? Your toes, you wiggle them.

That's what happens when people start getting an education and somebody starts, I call it dropping it in your spirit or dropping it in your energy or in your aura. You start getting these little things dropped into your spirit about real estate investing. These particular activators start picking up in your brain. You notice things you would never have noticed before. It's intuitive. It happens.

AER 24 | Real Estate Journey
Real Estate Journey: You don't get the title to the property or title to the car until you pay off the loan. A house, you get title upfront at the title company. You get that deed and the bank is a lien against the property.

It's like when you learn a new word and you see that word everywhere.

What were you thinking? You saw the empty homes and what was the next step afterward?

The first thought was like, “That home is empty.” Probably three homes down, I'm like, “That home is empty.” I went down the next street and I'm like, “That one is empty.” I started getting curious. I went back, wrote it down. I'm like, “I'm going to look these up. I'm going to figure out what's going on.” I wrote them all down and I had twenty homes. This is just my neighborhood. This is not a huge section. This is like a tax casita and a bunch of homes. I was intrigued.

I was thinking, “What in the world?” I go home. That's when I'm like, “Let me look these up. What can I find out? What's going on?” Even from the textiles, I learned how to look up some stuff. It wasn't like it was brand new for me to find the owners, but ten of those properties had different mailing addresses. You could see the owner's name, the property address, they have a different mailing address.

I'm like, “They're not even living in the house,” which they were empty and I knew that. The other ten still showed that was their home address. I sat down and wrote ten letters to the ten different mailing addresses that were not living in the house. This letter, you hear of yellow letters, but this was before I even knew about yellow letters. It was on a yellow notepad with the lines.

It was not professional. I was a little embarrassed. I'm thinking, “This is so unprofessional.” I honestly on there said, “I was driving through the neighborhood. I live in the neighborhood. Your home looks empty. I'm not an agent. I don't even know what I would do to help you but I'm curious what is going on with the house? Why is it empty? Maybe I can help. Maybe I can't.” I put my phone number and my name. I got a call. The first call I got back on those ten letters, she said to me, “You can have the house for $1,000. I'll sign it over to you. Give me $1,000 and it's yours.”


You should have seen me when I got the call. I'm in the van with my kids. The kids are all making noise. I step outside. I'm like, “This is my letter. They're calling me.” I step outside, shut the door so it's quiet in a parking lot. I'm jumping up and down like, “I got a call.” She literally said, “You can have the house for $1,000.” In my mind, I was thinking, “Is this possible? Can I do that?”

It’s the how. It’s not that you can’t do it. It's like, “How can I get this done?”

It changed from not knowing anything and being vulnerable and scared to, “This could happen. How can I make this happen?” I didn't end up doing this one. I learned a lot from that one.

Nice neighborhoods have the best landlord properties you could ever get because you're not dealing with people that you're chasing payments from.

Let me ask you this. The house that you didn't do, she said about the $1,000. I understand not doing it because it's scary. You don't want to get tied up in some mortgage situation where now it's in your name because you took over a deed for $1,000 and now you owe all this money. My husband would have if I signed on for something like that.

You want to have an education. Ladies, if you're reading, be sure to get an education. Cami is going to tell us what happened on the next house but for this one, she opted not to do it because if it's too good to be true, then it is too good to be true. You have to have the education to understand what you're doing. On the next house, Cami, are the ones that you ended up moving into. What happened with that one?

I went to my husband and I said, “What if we make her payments for her?” He said, “Are you crazy? How are we going to make our house payment?” We had our first home that we'd ever bought. We've been in there for four years. I said, “Let's rent out our house and we'll move into hers.” The money we make off with the rent from hers will cover her payment because her payment and our payment at the time was only $1,100 a month and the new house payment was $1,500 a month. I put a sign. He's like, “Only if you get it rented first are we going to move into this.” I'm so scared I'm even saying this but let's do it.

He hadn’t had a license. At this point, your husband was not a realtor.

He got his license several years later after we've been doing this. I put a sign in the yard. I went to Lowe's or Home Depot. I got one of those signs. I placed, “For rent.” I even hand-wrote for rent and put my phone number. I had someone to rent within a week. I had calls immediately, someone to rent within a week. I looked at my husband.

I said, “Looks like we're going.” At that point, I'm like, “I get the deed.” I went to the home documents that we purchased, our first home. I found and copied the deed and I found on the county record their names and I put their names in as the grantor and I put my name in as the grantee because I could tell that's how it was when we bought the house.

You copied the file?

I copied it. I knew to change the legal description and the names but other than that, I copied the deed from our purchase when we bought our home.

How do you then settle up? Where I get crossed up on this is the actual mortgage company. What happens that I've seen on the properties that I've purchased is that those loans are not assumable. How do you get past the bank calling the full loan due because you've now transferred the deed to someone that that bank is not approved to take over that mortgage? How do you get through all of that, Cami? That's a roaring question for me.

Luckily, I was a little bit naive at this point. I didn't know what they called the loan do mean. I didn't know it would even be a problem, crazy enough. When I got the deed, I went and filed that I was scared to file it because I walked into the county office downtown. It’s eight stories or whatever it is. I find out where they record the deeds. I look at the thing and I can see that it’s on the fourth floor. When you go in there, it's like you're going through the airport. It's all this security have to put everything in the back. I'm like, “This is intimidating.” I get up to the fourth floor. I’ve got my little deed there. I had them notarize them.

There were all these business people with their stacks of documents to file. You can tell that they're lawyers and all that. I walk up there with my little paper and I hand it to him. They look at it for a while. Those minutes felt like hours. I sat down in there, and they stamped it. They said, “Do you want to copy?” I felt like I was robbing the bank. I was like, “I'll have a copy.”

AER 24 | Real Estate Journey
Real Estate Journey: Properties are harder to find because the market is higher and people can sell and they put a foreclosure ban on all the foreclosures.

I walked out and down with the kids in the car. There was a part of me that thought, “Maybe I was doing something not legal.” I go down to the car. My husband's waiting there with the kids because he didn't have to park. He dropped me off. I went out and I said, “They took the deed.” He said, “Get in the car. Let's go.” That was how we did that. I did get authorization to talk on her loan. I got a third-party authorization. I was able to talk to the loan. We were able to pay the loan that way.

From there, she ended up taking an insurance check. I realized, when I got all the breakdown of the loan when I talked to the bank, she was paying an insurance policy that was $5,000 a year. I got an insurance policy that was $2,000 because she took a check for $3,000. I didn't know this, so I'm changing the insurance. I went through this process to get on the phone with the insurance and all I had was authorization for the loans.

From there, I learned to get a power of attorney so that I could talk to the loan and to the insurance and to the HOA. I got better at it as I went, the more I learned from this. She took the cheque and cashed that insurance cheque because it was written in her name. I learned from there to change the mailing addresses for everything, the mortgage company, the insurance, all that. We ended up refinancing the home after a year because my husband thought a police officer was going to knock on our door any day.

He kept thinking like we were going to get something in the mail or we were going to be in trouble. We ended up refinancing because he was nervous. From there, I learned, “We got our second home with no down payment.” We were able to refinance because we already owned the home. We were able to rent out our other one. We rented our other one out for $1,500 a month and our new house payment is $1,500 a month. I got the payment down to $1,400 a month because I got a lower insurance. We're making $100 a month.

Cami, I want to unpack some of what you said because this is all so good. The reason why it's legal is because the owner of the property, who was your church friend, she owned the property and she had a mortgage with the bank but she was the property owner. As a property owner, you can deed if you own 100% of the property or if there's more than one property owner. If all of the owners agree to deed that property to someone else in the United States, you can do that for no money. There are filing fees, things that you can pay. You can sell your property for $1. You can do whatever you want in the US of A. You can leave your property to your cat. If you own the property, you can do what you want.

It's completely legal for someone to deed you their property. There was no surprise there. The shocker for me is that her mortgage company allowed you to take over the payment. I'm still stuck on that due upon that clause that says that the entire amount is due. Did they qualify you? When you took over her payments, did they ask you for your Social Security? Did they pull your credit? Was there any approval process?

No, and that was the beauty of this whole thing. I said, “I'm going to start making these payments.” The bank didn't care who made the payment. I was like, “I didn't qualify. I didn't have to put any money down.” I started making these payments. I did put money into the house because it was a mess because she was going through a divorce. When I tell people about this now, they'll say, “How can she deed you the house when there's this loan owed?” It's not like a car. A car, you don't get the title to the car until you pay off the loan. A house, you get title upfront at the title company. You get that deed and the bank is a lien against the property.

That's why the bank has to come to foreclose to get ownership back when you get behind on your payments. They can't just take the property because the person that is on loan owns the property. That's the difference and sometimes people get confused with that. What I did learn is I did go to an investor group after this and told another investor, “This is what I did.” He looked at me and said, “That's illegal. You can't do that. You're going to get in trouble.” I did freak out a little bit. I was like, “I did something illegal?” I went and did the research myself. I went and looked up the loan document on the property. It specifically states in there that if you sign it over, you can put it in a trust.

For my first ten properties, I had them deeded directly to me. Now, what I'll do is an exception to the downside clause. The bank can come back and say, “You’re not on loan for this property, but you own it.” The bank legally can come back and say, “We're calling the loan due.” That's what that due on sale clauses. Meaning that they can say, “You need to go get a new loan. You need to get the loan in your name.” There are lots of ways you can do that are not so scary. If you already own the property, you can always refinance or sell the house. There are options but most people are so scared of it they never do it.

That's me. I’m so scared of it, but now that you’re saying it, I’m like, “It makes sense,” because it's been deeded to you. The deed is recorded. You own the property.

Most people, you have to go through the title company because the title company is going to make you pay off the lien. You're going to have to get a new loan. If you don't go through a title company, you take whatever liens are on the property, which can be scary because what if there are IRS liens, child support liens, all these other liens? After doing this for a while, I realized. I'm like, “I don't care. I'm going to take the liens with it because I don't ever have to pay this loan off if I don't want to. I can keep renting it in the future.” It's a different mentality and perspective.

Tell me about the trust. You were saying about holding the properties in a trust now. Is that how you do it now?

Yes, because I have learned that due on sale clause, there is an exception to the due on sale clause if the property is transferred to a trust. The bank accepts transferring a deed to a new owner or transfer of title if it's into a trust. The reason they do that is because the property owner could put it into a trust and they could still be on the trust documents. The beauty about a trust is the trust documents never get filed with the county. The deed that shows the trust name is filed in the county records but the trust documents stays at home in your filing cabinet and it is private. No one knows who's on that trust document.

AER 24 | Real Estate Journey
Real Estate Journey: There is an exception to the due on sale clause if the property is transferred to a trust. The bank accepts transferring a deed to a new owner to or transfer of title if it's into a trust.

Is it a different trust for each property?

Yes, I created a land trust. I put the name of the street. That's the name of my trust. If it's on Brazos Bend, my trust name is Brazos Bend Trust. If it's on Stone Gables, it's Stone Gables Trust. I name it the name of the property. I do one trust for every property. It's a six-page document. I changed the name of the trust and changed the address. It's that simple. Now, I've got a trust made.

Do the trust has to be filed somewhere with someone? The trust itself. Does it have to be held at with an attorney or CPA?

No, they don't have to be. You can if you want to start showing trust entities on tax returns and all that. You can file them and register them but I don't. I keep mine as just paper, keep them in a filing cabinet. I will have my LLC be the beneficiary. All of the money and the tax reporting purposes, I run it all through my LLC. The trust is like a pass-through. I report everything on my LLC.

I want to pause there to say, Cami and I are not CPAs, attorneys, or any type of person that's legally giving advice here. As you're reading, keep in mind you need to do your own due diligence, always. The other thing is that Cami and I are both in Houston, Texas. What flies in Houston may not fly in your state, your county or your municipality.

You've got to do your due diligence and make sure the things that we're talking about doing, they work in Harris County, Texas or Montgomery County, Texas. That does not mean that they are going to work where you live. Please, do your own due diligence before you get you knee-deep into trying to get these properties and you come back and be like, “Renee and Cami told me I could get a deed. Now I can’t.”

We are sharing this.

It's great information, though, Cami. I know you have 40 of these. How do you end up with 40 of them? How are you sourcing your deals?

I've taken over way more deeds than that. I've probably done 250 where I've gone and got a deed. I now pay a subscription to foreclose Houston. It's a foreclosure listing service. I get the list 3 to 6 weeks before the property forecloses. It is a subscription but it's worth it because it's your most accurate foreclosure website for Houston.

Before that, I was trying to find people behind on their HOA or was trying to find them empty or behind on their taxes. I was looking for all these things but the easiest thing, the least amount of time on an effort on my part was to get that foreclosure list. I would drive the foreclosure list, and all the ones that were empty, I would track them down because the bank hadn't taken it yet.

They had maybe two weeks left before it was going to be completely gone. I was tracking them down. I was finding them on LinkedIn and Facebook, then I started paying for people's search, which was expensive but it was worth it because then I was able to get them on the cell phone. Most of them would be like, “How'd you get me? This is freaky. How did you get my cell phone number?” I got them all. From 2010 to 2015, I already had 30. In five years, I got 30 properties. I got way more than that. I sent 60 to the attorneys but I held on to those 30. I got many fast that that's when I stopped at 30 because then it was harder for me to keep up with them all, managing them.

Are these cashflowing properties that you are leasing now?

Yes, they are. Most of these people that I found had done loan modifications, so they'd been behind. The bank worked with them and they rolled all the back payments into the end of the loan and they had got behind again. By the time I signed it, they were on their second round of being behind. Their interest rate was 2% because the bank’s like, “We're going to put a 2% interest rate on this. We're going to roll all these payments.” They're all cashflowing because I can rent them all for at least $300 to $500 more than what the mortgage payment is. They're all in great shape.

When I got them, they were all newer, nicer homes that were in nice neighborhoods, great schools. Little did I know that those are the best landlord properties you could ever get because you're not dealing with people that you're chasing payments from. These are families that went to nice schools, nice neighborhoods, they pay. I don't have to be like, “Where's your payment?” Everybody pays. As a landlord, I've got the best properties I could ever have.

Cami, can you do this now? Most of these properties were purchased between 2010 and 2015. Are you telling me that I can still do this now, like there are still properties that are pre-foreclosure in 2021? Does this model still work?

I got one in May 2021. They're harder to find because the market's higher and people can sell and they put a foreclosure ban on all the foreclosures. They stopped everything but I did get one in May 2021. It was her first home and she ended up getting married and has another home. She was renting out this other property. During COVID, she got behind on the payment, even though the renter was paying her. She got behind because her husband ended up dying. People still get in situations no matter what. I don't want to keep homes to keep homes. My thing is to help people and make it good for everybody involved but you can still get these.

People who are getting divorced. I got one in 2019, a brand-new home. The couple wanted to split in different directions. They couldn't sell it. They tried to sell it at the title company and they were coming to the closing with $3,000 and the buyer wasn't able to get qualified for the loan to buy it. The title company came to me and she's like, “I know you do these and maybe you can save this couple because they're going to start letting it get behind.”

They've already left the house. I stepped into that one. They weren't even behind yet. They were almost behind. I said, “I will step in. I'll make these payments and you can go your separate ways.” I put no money out of my own pocket to bring that one current or anything. I turned in and got a renter right in and started covering all the payments. It still happens. It's harder to find but it works.

Before I give you a compliment, which I got a lot of compliments coming to you, do you remember the name of the book that you edited with your mother-in-law?

Yes, I have never even read it again but it was by Robert.

Was it Robert Kiyosaki?

No, he's not well known. I might have to get back with you on that one. I got to remember the name. I haven't even read it again but it was those concepts and it was timing. I'm not saying the book wasn't good but it was timing. It was perfect for me at that time and what I needed.

It was exactly what you needed, so the impetus to get you started and sometimes, it’s a spark in the work of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Alexander Hamilton, “It’s time to turn this spark into a flame.” That’s what happens. We will get the name of the book and we will get Robert’s full name. I wanted to give you the compliment to say you are brave and courageous and wildly creative to be able to do this on such a large scale. I’m always floored by the fearlessness of women and our ability to create wealth and to do whatever it is that we need to do. We will figure it out. Cami, that’s what you did this. You figured it out.

Thank you.

I also wanted to let the audience know that you and I have some great things coming that we’re going to be doing together in the future. The audience will be hearing a lot more from Cami Davis. We’re going to start working on some real estate investing show episodes coming up here. I’m thinking maybe after the holidays.

Both of us, powering us women. We were going to do this together.

If the audience wants to reach you, Cami, how do we get in touch with you to learn more about subject-to and how to do what you’re doing?

I think the best place to get me is my Facebook Page. It's Camille Andrus Davis. I am on LinkedIn. I'm also on Instagram also but from Facebook, you'll be able to find me in those other places.

Camille Andrus Davis on Facebook. Ladies, you will hear a lot more from Cami coming up. That is it for this episode. Cami, thank you so much for being on the show. I sincerely appreciate your time. This was fun.

Thank you.

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About Camille Davis

Camille Davis is a real estate investor and creative finance expert who currently owns 40 single family homes. She and her husband Kyle have 4 children, and have managed over 250 "Subject to" transactions in Houston, TX since 2010.