Real Estate: My ATW Investment Update (Part 3)

This is my 3rd update post regarding my experiences investing with ATW Investments in San Antonio Texas owned by Brian Peyton.  As mentioned on my earlier 2 posts, I had purchased 3 properties from ATW back around July 2015.  Two of the properties had sold and the third was still in the rehab process.

The third property in Waco Texas finished rehab around August 3, 2016. [I’m not 100% sure of the rehab completion date since I wasn’t informed when the rehab was complete.  I have had to reach out to them every two weeks for an update.  My experience is that you have to reach out to them for updates versus them updating you.]

I had purchased the Waco property on July 31, 2015.  So, it had taken about a year to finish the rehab.  During this time, I have had to pay insurance and property taxes while making no income on the property.

As of today (October 6, 2016), the property is being marketed for sale.  So, it has been approximately 14 months since I purchased this property and still no cashflow.  Brian has offered to buy back the property from me and sell it to someone else.  However, I figure that I have waited this long if I sold it to someone else they would benefit from all of my months of waiting and expenses of carrying the property.

Also, I discovered that one of the purchasers of my other ATW property hadn’t made their mortgage payment.  So, I may end up having to foreclose on them.

In summary, I would caution any future ATW investors to consider the potential long term period of time that they will need to wait to get any return on their investment (in my 3rd case, 14 months and counting).  During this time, they will need to feed the investment by paying the monthly insurance and any property taxes.  Also, even after a property is sold, you may have the traditional real estate investment issues such as tenants/buyers not making their rent/mortgage payments and having to foreclose.

I’ll update folks when the 3rd property finally sells.  It will be a time of celebration.

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Real Estate: My ATW Experiences Update (Part 2)

I have gotten requests to write an update on my prior post regarding my experiences investing with ATW.  I have been hesitant to write an update since this experience has been trying and maybe only reflective of my experience working with ATW.  It may not be reflective of everyone else’s experience.  So given that, here is an update of my experience.

As a recap, I had purchased three properties from ATW Investments.  Two of the properties are located in Seguin, Texas and one in Waco, Texas.

The two properties in Seguin finally sold.

  • One property sold on March 8, 2016 and it took about a month to close escrow with the buyer.  I had purchased on July 27, 2015.  So, it took about 6-7 months from purchase, rehab, sale, and receipt of any funds back from my investment.  It’s interesting because the initial proforma mentioned that it would take 4-6 weeks for the rehab.  The sale price was within the range originally stated on the proforma.
  • The second property in Seguin sold on March 9, 2016 (similar to above).  I had purchased it on July 21, 2015.  So, it took about the 6-7 months to go through the  process.  This proforma stated that it would take 8-10 weeks for the rehab.

I had also purchased a property in Waco on July 31, 2015.  It is still in rehab as of the date of this post (5/22/2016).  So, it is going on 10 months of rehab.  When I ask for a status update, the reply is that it will take “two more weeks”, or we’re “waiting for an inspection.”  Brian has offered to purchase the property back.  I figured that since I have waited 10 months already.  I should  hang in there.  If I sold it back, Brian would probably sell it to the next investor and it’ll only have a short time before it finishes.

In summary, here are the downside that I have experienced.

  • I did not make any money from my investments for 6+ months.
  • I paid insurance for these properties during this whole time.  So, I have been making a monthly payment to pay for the insurance to cover the properties during the rehab.
  • I have had to also pay property taxes on the properties.   This is a pretty big expense since Texas has a high property tax.
  • I have had to reach out for updates.  ATW is not very proactive in providing status updates unless there is a status change (in my case, there has been little status change for 6 months).  I have had to reach out for updates on these properties.  During the Boot Camp, there was a mention of getting a weekly video updates.  I found these to be very sporadic.  I definitely did not get a video update every week over the last 10 months.  This overall has been a cost of my time and stress.
  • ATW has added some extra fees to the process (e.g. $50-$100 recording fee, plus some other fees).

The upsides are:

  • The two properties have sold within the parameters laid out in the proforma (e.g. sale price, and monthly rent.
  • I have been waiting for inspections on the Waco property.  So, hopefully, the inspectors are making sure that the rehab is up to code and that the rehab work meets the current standards and regulations.


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Office 365: Fixing Directory Synchronization (Issue #2)

In the previous blog post, I walked through how we upgraded from the Preview Azure AD Connect to the release version of Azure AD Connect in the attempts of fixing the directory synchronization issue. I thought that we had solved it until I got another e-mail from Office 365 stating that Directory Synchronization was unhealthy. I checked the Office 365 portal and noticed again that directory synchronization had not occurred in the last 70 hours.


[Note: In this blog post, I refer to troubleshooting steps that I explain in the previous blog post. Please refer back to that post to get the more details].

I loaded up the Directory Synchronization tool (miisclient.exe) and noticed that synchronization had not been running since the date/time that I had installed the tool (back on 10/19).


I checked the Scheduled Tasks and noticed that the DirSync task should have run today (10/22).


I ran a manual full sync using the command: DirectorySyncClientCmd.exe initial


I looked at the logs and noticed that the synchronization worked.


I checked the portal and noticed that Office 365 registered the synchronization.


It appears that the default scheduled task that was created by the Azure AD Connect installer is not working or doesn’t have the appropriate rights. So, we created a new scheduled task to run the Directory Synchronization task.

Launch the Task Scheduler and on the right, select Create task. Specify a name and give a description to alert others what the task is for.   Selected “Run whether user is logged on or not” and checked “Run with highest privileges


Go to the Triggers tab. I selected New and configured the Trigger to run every “3 hours” (need to type it in) and run for a duration of “Indefinitely


Go to the Actions tab. I selected New and selected Browse and browsed to the DirectorySyncClientCmd.exe


Pressed ok to save the task I needed to specify the account that will perform the directory synchronization.

I then disabled the original task that was created by the Azure AD Connect installer since it wasn’t working.


Then I ran the new task that I created


I went to the MIISClient and confirmed that the sync job was running:


I checked it later and it was still running happily.   I’ll let everyone know if I encounter another problem.



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Office 365: Fixing Directory Synchronization

I have multiple Office 365 environments and all of them having been giving me directory synchronization errors. I finally had time to research and troubleshoot these issues. So, if you are also getting the following e-mails, I’ll walk through the process that I went through to fix them.   Please note that I am just sharing the process that I went through to fix these problems. Things may change in the interim between the time of this article and your scenario.

Subject: Unhealthy Identity synchronization Notification: Wednesday, 21 October 2015 13:55:27 GMT.

Hello ###,

On Wednesday, 21 October 2015 13:55:27 GMT, Azure Active Directory did not register a synchronization attempt from the Identity synchronization tool in the last 24 hours for Microsoft [XXX].

You can troubleshoot this issue by running the Directory Synchronization troubleshooter <> on the server that has Azure Active Directory identity synchronization tools installed.

Thank you,

The Azure Active Directory Team

After getting these e-mails, if you login to your Office 365 portal (, check the user replication status. On the main Office 365 Admin Center page under Users > Active Users, you can check if synchronization has been working or not. In my case, I got the warning below.


I ran the Directory Synchronization Troubleshooter and it wasn’t much help.

Evolution of Office 365 Synchronization Services

So, I looked at the Dir Sync server. I had “Directory Sync” tool, upgraded it to “Azure AD Sync Service” and then upgraded that to “Azure AD Connect” around April 2015. For a brief background, there has been an evolution in the Microsoft Office 365 Directory Synchronization services.   Initially, there was “Directory Synchronization Tool”. Then, the next version was called “Azure AD Sync” and now, the latest is called “Azure AD Connect”.   For a comparison of the different tools (see Here). The Azure AD Connect tool has a lot of capabilities and a great presentation to learn more about it can be found from an Microsoft Ignite presentation (here).

Directory Synchronization Tool

On the Directory Synchronization server, I checked the synchronization. To check the synchronization, launch the MIISClient.exe which can be found in:   c:\Program Files\Microsoft Azure AD Sync\UIShell\miisclient.   I would recommend making a shortcut to this program and putting it on your desktop since it is very handy.


Once it launches, you will see the synchronization history on the Operation tab (see below). Please note that the picture below shows the results after I had fixed the problem. I forgot to grab the screenshot before I fixed the problem. When I had the problem, the operations log was missing the two “Export” jobs. The Export jobs export the changes in the Metaverse (directory database on the synchronization engine) back to the connected directories (Active Directory and Azure Active Directory). Thus, all the changes were being imported into the metaverse but weren’t being synchronized back out to the directories.


After much troubleshooting and a call to Microsoft support, we determined that the version of the Azure AD Connect that we had installed back around April 2015 had a problem.

[Side Note: I think that my teammate had installed the preview/beta version of the Azure AD Connect]

So, we disabled the Scheduled Task that performs the synchronization. Basically, the dir sync job is run on a scheduled task that runs every 3 hours. Open up your scheduled tasks and you will see it.


We disabled it. Then we downloaded the latest version of the Azure AD Connect tool (here) and installed it onto a separate server.

After installing the latest version of the Azure AD Connect tool, we then initiated a full synchronization cycle.

Forcing A Directory Synchronization

To force a full synchronization cycle, you will need the DirectorySyncClientCmd.exe which can be found in: c:\program files\microsoft azure ad sync\bin


If you run the command by itself, it will initiate a directory synchronization. If you run it with the “initial” parameter, then the tool will initiate a full synchronization. After running it, the directory synchronization completed, export jobs will run, and my objects were updated in Office 365.

This was good news! Until a couple days later, I got the dreaded “Directory Synchronization error” e-mail again!

On my next blog post, I’ll walk through the steps that we took to fix the next issue that we encountered.

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Real Estate: Experiences Investing with ATW Investments in San Antonio

I attended a Real Estate Boot Camp in San Antonio back on 6/29 to 7/3/2015 hosted by a company, ATW Investments.  I had signed up to attend the boot camp after listening to a Real Estate Guys Radio Show interview with the owner and founder, Brian Peyton.  Prior to signing up for the boot camp, I had done some research and didn’t find much on the Internet regarding this company.  So, based upon the recommendations of the Real Estate Radio Guys show and reviewing a webinar that Brian delivered, I signed up for the boot camp.

I want to blog about my experience working with them and hopefully by sharing my experience, others who are considering investing with them can learn from it.

At the boot camp, I learned about

  • the San Antonio and surrounding  markets,
  • Brian Peyton story
  • ATW Investment opportunities
  • Developing my own plan to achieve my goals.
  • Touring San Antonio, Waco, and Seguin markets and seeing some of the deals and getting the opportunity to purchase some.
  • Meeting his team

I was impressed at the boot camp and as a result, I purchased two properties in what ATW calls their vendor finance model and invested some money into ATW hard money lending (Upfront Capital).   Also, shortly after the boot camp, I purchased a third property in their vendor finance model.

Now, almost four months later, I wanted to blog about my experiences.

Upfront Capital:  Returns thus far 0%

  • I had invested some money with ATW’s hard money lending divison called Upfront Capital:  In this model, you provide funds to ATW and they lend it out to rehabbers who need hard money loans to complete the rehab.  As a lender, I am in first position on the liens.   The returns are said to range from 9% to 23% (averaging 17%) depending upon how often they can re-lend your funds to other rehabbers.
  • Thus far with my hard money funds, I have yielded 0%.   I have been following up with them every couple weeks and have been told that they are still trying to place my funds.

ATW Vendor Finance Investment:  Returns thus far 0%

  • In the vendor finance investment, you purchase the home and your purchase price includes the home and the rehab costs.   ATW will facilitate the rehab and then find a buyer to sell the house too and I will carry the note on the purchase.  The goal is to be the bank and collect the interest/loan payments from the buyer.
  •  Thus far, I have purchased three properties:  Two in Seguin, TX and the other in Waco, Tx.
  • It took about a month to close on the properties (end of July. 2015 to 8/17).
  • Then, I was told that ATW rehab crews were behind schedule so I have been waiting about 2 months (end of Sept) before rehab could begin.
  • My one investment in Seguin started the rehab process on 9/17.  I haven’t been given a time frame on how long the rehab will take.
  • My investment in Waco just started the rehab process and I was notified that it could take 3 months to complete the rehab because of permits.   [Side note:  I am wondering why ATW couldn’t start the permit process in the two months that I have been waiting for their rehab crews.]
  • My other investment in Seguin that I purchased after the boot camp is sitting.  I was told that their rehab team need some sort of certification before they can begin the rehab.  The rehab team was scheduled to take the exam on 10/6.  [Side note:  I am wondering why the team didn’t take this exam in the months that I had been waiting.]

I questioned Brian about this extended period and he responded that it could take up a year before an investor can expect any returns.   “The total range is 1 day to 1 year to get an investment through our system”.  Brian mentioned that he said this at the boot camp but I must have missed it.  This is a key point that other investors should consider.  You may have to wait up to a year to get any returns out of your investments.  This waiting period is not reflected in the proformas that are given out on the investments. 

On a side note, the communication from ATW is very reactive.   I have had to reach out to them all the time to get any status updates on my investment.  It appears to be that their policy is not to communicate with the investor unless something is happening.  In my case, very little has been happening over the last 4 months so they had little need to communicate.

This is the second thing to consider that if you want to know what is happening, you’ll have to be proactive in reaching out to ATW.

I will update folks as my investments go through the ATW system.

Posted in Real Estate, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Microsoft Announces Public Trial of Voice Capabilities Coming in Office 365

Microsoft announced the public trial/beta of the new voice/telephony abilities coming in the Office 365.   See here for the announcement.   This preview allows people to try the new telephony capabilities that are coming in Office 365. 

In this preview, you can register and experience the following cool new capabilities:

  • Broadcast Meetings:   In the past with Lync and Skype For Business, you were limited to having a maximum of 250 people in one meeting in Office 365.   Now with the coming Broadcast Meeting capability, you can broadcast a meeting to 10,000 attendees who can attend via a browser.   This broadcast meeting is primarily one way to deliver content from a source to many attendees (e.g. Company All Hands meeting, webinar)
  • PSTN Conferencing:  In the past with Office 365, you could host audio/video conferences but everyone needed to join via the Lync client to attend.   You could add a phone number for attendees to dial-in to join the audio conference call but this required working with a 3rd party audio conferencing provider to provide this capability.  Now with this release, Microsoft will provide the dial-in phone number.
  • Cloud PSTN Conferencing:   In this past with Office 365, users could communicate with instant messaging, audio/video calls, and desktop sharing.  But the users needed to use the Lync or Skype For Business clients.  With this capability, users will be able to make and receive phone calls.  This is great for business who don’t want to maintain a phone system (PBX).  They can move/port their employees phone numbers to Office 365 so that employees can retain their phone number.  Now, their employees can make and receive phone calls as before except now its integrated into the Lync/Skype For Business client in Office 365.

See the above announcement for more details.

To register for the Preview,  go to:

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Passed 70-533 Azure Infrastructure Exam Today!!

Yay.  I have been spending my evenings and weekends for the last couple months studying for the Azure Infrastructure Exam (70-533).  Today, I took it and passed! Smile

To prepare, I used

  • Exam Skill Areas Covered (here).   Review the topics covered and make sure that you understand all those areas.  There are 6 core areas.  The exam covered all of them. 
  • Study PowerShell.  The exam asked how to do things with Powershell.  So, you need to know how to do things not only through the Management portal and Preview portal but also through PowerShell.  There were some specific questions on knowing the order of the commands and syntax.
  • Memorize the various tiers of services (Basic, Standard, and Premium) and make sure you understand the thresholds why you would use one tier over the other.
  • I used the following resources:
    • MS Press Book on 70-533 (here).  This was my primary resource
    • Azure Documentation on website.  There are tons of documentation on the Azure website (here)
    • Azure for IT Pros webinars (here)
    • Azure Friday’s webinars (here)
    • Azure Microsoft Virtual Academy (here)
    • Hours of hands-on working with Azure.  I highly recommend not only reading the material, watching the webinars, but also doing and getting hands-on with PowerShell, Xplat-Cli, Management Portal, Preview Portal, and Visual Studio

Good Luck if you’re also studying for the exam.  Now, I going to focus on 70-534

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