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The Millionaire Next Door 7/1/2013

Many Americans are taking their first steps toward a more stable financial future by investing in real estate. And it's not just the wealthy few, but everyday people that are taking advantage of great financing options and low mortgage rates to get into today's real estate market.

But, this isn't the same buy and sell "house flipping" strategy you might be thinking of. These are long-term investments that actually generate rental income and consistent monthly cash flow almost immediately. In comparison, investing in mutual funds or the stock market is mostly a "wait and see" endeavor that may or may not pay off over time. As a matter of fact, recently some of the nation's big hedge funds are actually purchasing large numbers of residential properties, not to resell them for a profit, but to create rental revenue and cash flow.

Keep in mind the key to a good investment property is monthly cash flow. Simply put, this is the rental income remaining after all expenses and the mortgage are paid. When a property is purchased with cash flow in mind, it will earn money - even when the market is not appreciating!

One of the greatest advantages of real estate investing is the ability to estimate a property's performance ahead of time. Unlike other forms of investment, one can literally inspect the asset, acquiring "insider information" before making the purchase. Finding the right deal is easy once one analyzes the numbers properly.

Of course, properties do have expenses, such as insurance and maintenance; however, working with a knowledgeable agent to find the right property and do the math ahead of time can help reduce risk and help ensure cash flow. Partnering with a real estate agent trained in the investor market is essential in identifying and negotiating purchases to ensure a great investment from the outset.

When considering the range of finance options available and mortgage rates that still remain at record lows, it's easy to see why so many people, are getting into real estate investing. Just by leveraging a small initial investment into the purchase of a property of much higher value, anyone can create monthly cash flow and start building wealth.

Why Real Estate Should Be A Crucial Part of Your Retirement Plan 6/1/2013

Many people believe that to build wealth one must invest in the stock market. The underlying concept is straightforward enough: You purchase stock in a company and they in turn work to increase their profits, which increases the value of your stock. If you're lucky, they may even send you a dividend, but it's not likely. If they do, it won't be much. For serious investors, what's missing from this process is control. The truth is that those who invest in stocks are at the mercy of the companies they've invested in to generate profits and increase stock value.

For those who prefer a more active, hands-on approach, real estate has proven to be a lucrative alternative. Many are choosing investment properties with great cash flow with the help of an expert agent experienced in real estate for investment. Once they have acquired a property, these investors have control over a variety of elements affecting the size of their returns, including property condition, rent charged and tenant screening. These decisions have a direct impact on creating a steady stream of cash flow while building equity, both of which will work to build wealth over time.

But it's not just control that makes real estate investing attractive. One of the biggest benefits of real estate investing is the fact that you can purchase so much more with your money. The reason? You can use the same available cash you would have used to purchase shares of stock or a mutual fund, and use it as a down payment for a property that is ultimately worth much more than the cash you had available. It's called "leverage" and it's a powerful tool when used properly.

Certainly, investment properties will have expenses associated with them, such as insurance and maintenance; however, working with a knowledgeable agent to find the right property and do the math ahead of time can help mitigate risk and help ensure cash flow. Partnering with a Certified Investor Agent Specialist (CIAS) is essential in identifying and negotiating your purchases to ensure a great investment from the outset.

In the long run, there are many great options available to help you plan for your retirement. The point isn't to take one option over the other and ignore all the others. In fact, opening up to the entire spectrum of investment options could end up providing you access to options that you didn't know you had.

The College Payment Plan that Pays for Itself 5/1/2013

It's a college payment plan you may not have considered, but more and more people are finding real estate investing to be the perfect solution.

The idea is to purchase a house as an investment property when a child is born or very young. Ideally, a 15-year fixed rate mortgage is used for a property that cash flows in the first year. By the time the child has reached college age the property is paid for and the parents can sell the asset and use the gain to fund college. Not only has the equity in the property grown over 18 years, but they've benefitted from the yearly cash flow as well.

Here's how the scenario might play out:

Let's say our fictional parents purchase a $100,000 house with $20,000 as a down payment. They take out a 15-year mortgage for the balance at 6.75 percent interest. Their mortgage payments are roughly $8,945 for the year (or $708 per month).

If they rent the house out for $1,200 a month and have around $325 per month in expenses (taxes, insurance, repairs), they should see about $2,005 in cash per year from rental income for the first 15 years. From years 16-18, the expense of the mortgage is eliminated, yielding them $10,500 in cash flow annually. Over 18 years the total cash flow equates to $61,575. Note that this conservative estimate does not include potential rent increases that will increase cash flow and will help offset additional property taxes. Nor does it include interest earned if the parents decide to reinvest cash flow.

In 18 years the property will have appreciated, too. If we use a 3 percent rate of appreciation, which is less than the 5 percent appreciation real estate has averaged over the past 40 years, the $100,000 property they bought would be worth $170,243 at the time of sale.

The initial $20,000 investment would have earned $150,243 over 18 years - a return of over 13%. Including cash flow, the return is 15%!

While it is difficult to determine what future tuition will be-increases in tuition have spiked dramatically in recent years-a $230,000 ($170,000 sales price + $60,000 in cash flow) cushion should be enough to soften the tuition blow.

Investors aren't limited to purchasing real estate to fund college; many choose to purchase property during the college years to provide their children with a home and save on room and board.

San Francisco-based parents Katie and Dale have purchased a house with multiple bedrooms for their children, leasing the other bedrooms to other students. Because of the high demand, the rent helps pay the mortgage on the property and the parents plan to sell when their children no longer need the house.

In the long run, these savvy parents are saving money and helping to provide their children with a stable place to live during their college careers.

Today’s Unique Market Opportunity 4/1/2013

In the real estate market, there is incredible opportunity... you just have to know where to look.

There are two ways to make money in real estate investing: cash flow and appreciation. Cash flow should be your primary consideration when looking for properties to rent. The beauty of cash flow is that it provides income every month. It ensures that, no matter what is happening in the market, there will always be properties that make sense for investors. All you have to do is make sure that the math makes sense.

Although cash flow is the most important element to consider when investing in real estate, it doesn’t mean you should ignore appreciation. Appreciation occurs when the value of your property increases after you buy it.

The great thing about cash flow is that it exists in any market. Good markets and bad, there are always properties in which the math works out so that cash flow can be achieved. What makes today’s opportunity so unique is that so many of the properties can be bought at a discount.

The reason these properties are available at bargain prices is because there is still a backlog of distressed inventory, homes in danger of foreclosure, that sell for a discount.

For homes that have yet to be foreclosed on, a short sale is the most common method of investor purchases. In a short sale, the bank agrees to accept an offer that is less than is owed on the mortgage. The result is that these properties can be purchased at a bargain. In fact, in a recent RealtyTrac study, the top 15 markets in the U.S. for short sales offered an average of $106,000 under market price for the property. A qualified real estate agent can help you find these properties.

When a home has already been foreclosed on, it becomes “Real Estate Owned” by the bank, or REO. The same RealtyTrac report stated that the top 15 REO markets offered close to 30% savings under market value when purchasing the property from the bank.

This opportunity is real, and it’s incredible. Savvy investors are taking advantage of this market because the recognize it is a once in a generation opportunity.

Investor Story #1: Building His Investment Empire One Property At A Time 3/1/2013

Joel C. was a first time investor, but his goals were different than most first timers. He wanted to invest in real estate so that he would have enough passive income to create stability for his future family. He and his wife, Dani, did a lot of research and planning before jumping in.

“I had been doing research and reading books for years, so I knew how much time was involved,” said Joel. He turned to a real estate agent to help him get the ball rolling. “I finally realized that if I want to be an entrepreneur and an investor, I couldn’t do it all myself. I had to find an expert who could do that work for me.”

Joel’s agent started by putting him on a drip email campaign that would send him information about properties in the area. He knew what he wanted was cash flow. “I could look at these properties and make sure the numbers worked. If it didn’t I’d just delete it and move on,” he said.

When he found properties that seemed to fit the bill, he and his wife visited the properties with his agent. “When we went to the properties he gave me expert advice, sometimes for and sometimes against purchasing the property.” Eventually, they found a property, and qualified for an FHA owner-occupied loan. Although they hadn’t considered living in their investment property before, for Joel and Dani it made a lot of sense.

“We’re getting the house for free because someone else is paying the mortgage,” said Dani. “It’s not like we have an abundance of money coming out of nowhere, so we really had to plan for what we wanted to do.”

“In 10 years I’ll be investing in large apartment complexes. It’s something to look forward to,” he said.” Ultimately, the combination of research, a clear plan, and expert advice from his agent helped Joel and Dani take the first step towards achieving their wealth-building goals.

Like Joel, there are others who have their own investor stories. You can read them by downloading the report on this site entitled, “Real Stories from Real People Investing in Real Estate.” You will likely identify with at least one of them, then you can begin the process of building your own investor story.

Discover Your Real Estate Investor Profile 2/1/2013

Seasoned real estate investors will usually have a clear understanding of the investment criteria they want. They know what their goals are, they understand the types of properties they need to focus on, and they know their financial limitations. For newer investors, however, these questions might be harder to answer if only because they don’t know where to start.

There are 5 basic types of investors. Understanding which group you fall into is the key to determining which direction your real estate investment strategy should head. The following is a list of the 5 investor types and the criteria they’ll best respond to when it comes to real estate investment.

1. The First-Time Investor

The First-Time Investor is often surprised to find how simple real estate investing is and is sometimes hesitant to jump in. To alleviate these concerns, First-Time Investors should concentrate on properties that need less work and are in more desirable areas in order to eliminate some of the variables.

2. The Move-Up Investor

An increasingly common investor type, Move-Up Investors are those who upgrade their primary residence. Instead of selling their current home, however, they keep it, rent it out and generate cash flow. Move-Up Investors have the benefit of intimate knowledge of their investment property.

3. Portfolio Investor

Portfolio Investors own one or more investment properties and are interested in expanding their investment reach. For the Portfolio Investor, many of the mechanics of real estate investing are no longer foreign, making it easier to find other opportunities. The Portfolio Investor will begin to consider properties beyond the single-family home.

4. Performance Investor

Chances are, Performance Investors have a high level of comfort with the investment process and may also have a higher net worth. They are able to use their net worth to buy a wider variety of properties including those in the luxury, resort and commercial portions of the market. Performance Investors are also in a good position to leverage their assets and grow their wealth quickly.

5. The Rehab & Resell Investor

Sometimes called flippers, Rehab & Resell Investors like getting their hands dirty and making quick but substantial improvements to properties that may have fallen into disrepair. The risk can sometimes be a little higher in this type of investing as the properties are not always in good shape, but the reward can be high as well.

As someone with the Certified Investor Agent Specialist designation, I can help you determine your investor type, explore opportunities for investment in the market, and equip you with the knowledge and resources you need to build wealth. Please contact me today to get the process started!

The Portrait of a Typical Investment Property (It may be different than you think!) 1/1/2013

When it comes to real estate investing, there are a lot of misconceptions, especially where investment properties are concerned. Too often, real estate investments are associated with one of two extremes: run-down properties to be rehabbed and resold or exclusive, resort-like vacation properties.

While some do invest in properties like these, the portrait of the typical real estate investment property is much different. The following are a few statistics that represent average investment properties:

    · 75% of investment properties are in small towns and rural or suburban areas

    · 48% of investment properties are within 20 miles of the investor's primary residence

    · 57% of investment properties are single-family, detached homes

    · 92% are not resort properties

As you can see, the average investment property is a single-family home purchased near the investor’s primary residence. The reality is, there are properties with great investment potential in nearly every market. You simply need to know what to look for when searching for properties.

For most real estate investors, the primary consideration should be a property’s ability to generate monthly cash flow, or the amount of income (in the form of rent payments) remaining after expenses and mortgage are paid. By investing for cash flow, a property will earn money every month, even when not appreciating. This ensures your investment will continue to be stable and lucrative.

Earning cash flow on a property has many benefits that you simply don’t find in other investment options: you maintain control over how the cash is used, you can increase cash flow by cutting expenses or raising rent, and you earn consistent and secure income month over month, to name a few.

If you’re considering investing in real estate, begin by thinking about your preferred investment areas. Focus on areas near you that you’re familiar with and that have home prices within your budget. Once you’ve narrowed it down, contact a real estate agent who specializes in working with investors, such as a Certified Investor Agent Specialist (CIAS).

A CIAS designated agent has the skills and knowledge to assess properties based on your specific needs and wants. He or she can provide you with an analysis of a property’s cash flow potential and guide you through the entire investment process.

Building Generation Wealth, Property by Property 12/11/2012

People invest for an array of reasons, but chief among them is the desire to secure comfortable and stable futures for their families. Wealth secured for future generations—one’s children and children’s children—is known as “generational wealth,” and it allows one to shape the quality of the educational, economic, and social opportunities available to future generations. Building generational wealth, however, takes prudent and careful investing. For many, real estate is an enticing investment option for its unique and lucrative benefits such as cash flow, appreciation, and leverage.

Unlike other investments, such as stocks, bonds and CDs, where quick returns are rare or nonexistent, the returns from a real estate investment property are immediate, steady and build wealth over time. In real estate, it’s called cash flow, the return on investment in the form of rent after the mortgage and expenses have been paid. Today’s market provides incredible investment opportunities with great cash flow potential. In fact, rent prices increased 5.1% nationwide from 2011 to 20121, while interest rates and the median existing home sales price remained low, providing investors with even greater cash flow returns.

While one should always invest for cash flow, appreciation is still a very lucrative benefit of real estate and an incredible opportunity for investors looking to secure long-term, generational wealth. The real estate market has long operated in cycles of rapid and slow appreciation, and even with the recent fluctuation in the housing market, median home prices have still risen at a rate of 5.2% every year when adjusted for inflation. That means a home purchased in 1969 for $21,800 (which was the median sales price that year), would have been worth $172,900 at the end of 2010.

With real estate, investors also maximize the power of their investment dollars by leveraging their money. Generally speaking, leverage is any technique that increases gains. In real estate, an investor leverages her investment dollars as a downpayment for a property, so as the property appreciates, she earns money on the full value of the property, not just the original payment.

For example, if you leverage $20,000 as a downpayment on a $100,000 property, as the property appreciates, you’re earning a return on the full $100,000, rather than just the $20,000 invested. Leveraging this way allows an investor to get as much as four to five times the buying power of each dollar.

Considering all the advantages, real estate is one of the best investment vehicles for building generational wealth. However, when considering investing in real estate, it is crucial that you partner with an agent who has the knowledge and tools to find the property that suits your specific needs and goals. Certified Investor Agent Specialist (CIAS) agents are trained in serving investor needs and can help you find your next investment property.

By investing carefully and for the long-term, you can build a financial legacy and ensure that future generations of your family have secure, comfortable futures and increased opportunities available to them.


Savvy Investors Know That Real Estate is King of Investment Mountain 10/29/2012

Many people believe that to build wealth one must invest in the stock market. The underlying concept is straightforward enough: You purchase stock in a company and they in turn work to increase their profits, which increases the value of your stock. If you’re lucky, they may even send you a dividend, but it’s not likely. If they do, it won’t be much. For serious investors, what’s missing from this process is control. The truth is that those who invest in stocks are at the mercy of the companies they’ve invested in to generate profits and increase stock value.

For those who prefer a more active, hands-on approach, real estate has proven to be a lucrative alternative. Many are choosing investment properties with great cash flow with the help of an expert agent experienced in real estate for investment. Once they have acquired a property, these investors have control over a variety of elements affecting the size of their returns, including property condition, rent charged and tenant screening. These decisions have a direct impact on creating a steady stream of cash flow while building equity, both of which will work to build wealth over time.

But it’s not just this control that makes real estate as an investment so attractive. In fact, the numbers are on the side of real estate investment. When you look at the performance of stocks versus real estate, the stock market has proven to be much more volatile. If you had invested $100,000 in the stock market in in January 2000, your investment would only be worth $97,680 in June 20121. That same investment in real estate would be worth $135,670 according to median sales price figures from the National Association of Realtors2. That’s a 2.32 percent decrease for the stock market and a 35.7 percent increase for real estate. And, based on Census Bureau averages of rental pricing3 during that time, cash flow from a rental property would generate $93,954. When combined with the average appreciation over that time period, this investment’s returns would total $229,624—even after the worst housing crash in our generation. Any investor can see that a 129.62 percent increase is a more attractive proposition than a -2.32 percent loss.

Certainly, investment properties will have expenses associated with them, such as insurance and maintenance; however, working with a knowledgeable agent to find the right property and do the math ahead of time can help mitigate risk and help ensure cash flow. Partnering with a Certified Investor Agent Specialist (CIAS) is essential in identifying and negotiating your purchases to ensure a great investment from the outset.

Considering all the great deals in today’s market, the lower-than-ever interest rates, tax benefits, and proven stability over time, it’s easy to see that when compared to other asset classes, real estate is indeed King of Investment Mountain.

1CNN Money

2National Association of Realtors

3U.S. Census Bureau

1981 vs. 2011: A Historical Housing Perspective 9/23/2012

You’ve likely heard a lot about the housing market recently. On the news there have been a lot of stories about low interest rates and high home affordability. When wading through the numbers, however, it can be easy to miss an amazing fact: The average home today is more affordable than the average home 30 years ago. How is this possible when today’s home is more than twice as much? Record-low interest rates.

In 1981, the average home was $82,000, the average 30-year fixed interest rate was 16.63%, and the average mortgage payment (principal and interest) was $1,147. Compare this with 2011’s numbers: average home at $242,300, average 30-year fixed interest rate at 4%, and average mortgage payment at $1,093. See the chart below.

Average Home Price$82,500$242,300
30-year Fixed Interest Rate16.63%4.00%
Mortgage Payment (P & I)$1,147$1,093

When you adjust for inflation, $1,147 in 1981 is the same as $2,838 today. Put simply, you can buy 20 percent more house for a more than 60 percent discount. Couple high affordability with the fact that interest rates are at all-time lows, allowing people to enter the market with less money than ever before and produce cash flow at a higher rate, and you have an incredibly performing asset!

As a Certified Investor Agent Specialist, I have spent a lot of time training myself in the best possible ways to help real estate investors build wealth. I do this by being an expert in my market and have developed a system that allows me to identify the best properties with the potential for the highest possible cash flow. Whether you are a first time investor or a seasoned veteran, I can be one of your most valuable resources.

Contact me today, and unlock a world of real estate wealth!

Investing in Real Estate Using Creative Financing 8/28/2012

The affordability of American homes has never been greater. Low home prices and low interest rates make buying a home cheaper than renting in many markets. So why do nearly a third of Americans choose to rent? For many people, financing can be a barrier. On CNBC.com’s Realty Check, real estate reporter Diana Olick writes, “The days of free-wheeling lending are over, and credit-worthiness is king. There are low down payment options, like the FHA, but too many potential buyers don’t meet the credit qualifications either for the great low rates or for the loan itself.”1

Homebuyers and sellers and investors on either side of a transaction have found viable alternatives in the form of creative financing. In three types of creative seller financing—installment sales, seller carryback loans, and wraparound mortgages—the seller becomes the lender and accepts payments from the buyer over an agreed upon period of time. This is particularly lucrative for the seller because the payments are amortized; they include interest resulting in greater cash flow. Along with the higher returns, however, comes risk as the seller assumes the burden of dealing with default. It’s always best to consult with an attorney to minimize the risk and also to ensure legal compliance.

In another type of creative financing, called a lease option, the interested buyer rents the home with the option to buy at the end of the lease. The seller becomes a landlord and charges a higher rent, a portion of which will go toward the down payment. The lease agreement includes a nonrefundable deposit that will also go toward the down payment. If the renter decides not to buy at the end of the lease, however, the seller keeps the deposit and extra rent paid. Investor organizations believe that less than 20 percent of all lease options result in a closed transaction.

Creative financing can be a great option on the buying side, too. Many investors who purchase fixer-uppers with the intent to renovate them and resell them for profit use private or “hard-money” lenders. Hard-money lenders, as opposed to traditional lenders, will loan on properties needing minor and/or major repairs and have quicker turnaround times. The downside to using hard-money, of course, is the high interest rate. The interest on a loan from a hard-money lender can be three to four times higher than the interest on a traditional loan. But if an investor is able to turn a property around within the term of his loan, he’ll be in good shape and will likely make a fantastic return on his investment in a very short period of time.

Whether buying or selling, knowing the options available to you as a new—or even experienced—real estate investor can open doors to new opportunities and put more money in your pocket. Creative financing can be a useful tool in executing an investment transaction. Be sure to consult with a qualified attorney; you don’t want to let an unlawful contract ruin a great deal.

1CNBC (http://www.cnbc.com/id/48461343)

The Real Estate Market is Hot—Invest Intelligently and You Won’t Get Burned 8/1/2012

The real estate market has been heating up nationwide, and it’s only getting hotter. On CNBC.com’s Realty Check, real estate reporter Diana Olick writes, “It’s no secret that investors have been inhaling foreclosed properties at a breakneck pace, trying to cash in on an increasingly hot rental market.”1

Recently Bloomberg reported that Blackstone Group, the biggest buyer of U.S. commercial real estate, “is turning to residential real estate after a 34 percent plunge in prices since the 2006 peak. The New York-based company is the biggest investor seeking to enter the single-family leasing market as rents climb and the U.S. homeownership rate sits at a 15-year low.”2

In some markets—Oakland, California, for example—rents are often higher than mortgage payments. SFGate.com reported, “In neighborhoods hit hard by the housing crisis, it would be cheaper for many families to buy a foreclosed home than rent an apartment. The average price of a house in those neighborhoods is less than $150,000. Monthly payments on most 30-year mortgages at that price are usually less than $1,000, while rents on many West Oakland properties are around $2,000.”3

Real estate investors have the added advantage of record-low interest rates. According to Freddie Mac’s Weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for the first half of 2012 averaged 3.86%, while the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.12%!4 Even investors who have the cash are locking in these incredible rates.

So who are the buyers making up this heat wave of investing? Surprisingly, the typical real estate investor isn’t wealthy and middle-aged like you might imagine. The reality is that the median income of the real estate investor is $86,100. It’s not much higher than the median income of the primary residence buyer: $72,400. And nearly 40% of investors made less than $75,000 in 2011.5Today’s real estate investor is really just the average American homebuyer.

When you consider today’s market conditions, it’s not surprising that investors are popping up everywhere. But not all discounted properties are good investments, no matter how low the price and interest rate may be. Several factors affect a property’s return on investment, and they all need to be carefully considered. For example, experienced investors know to invest for cash flow—a property’s return on investment in the form of monthly rent. It’s immediate, steady, and can build wealth over time. Many new investors tend to think in terms of appreciation, but intelligent investors know that investing for cash flow helps ensure a profitable investment regardless of appreciation.

1CNBC (http://www.cnbc.com/id/47890798/Investors_Get_Creative_with_Hot_Rental_Market)

2Bloomberg (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-03/blackstone-makes-foray-into-houses-for-rent-mortgages.html)

3San Francisco Chronicle (http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Investors-buying-renting-many-Oakland-3674915.php)

4FreddieMac (http://www.freddiemac.com/pmms/)

52012 National Association of Realtors (NAR) Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey

Secure Your Future—Invest in Real Estate 6/25/2012

There are a number of reports and studies circulating on the internet and in the media about Americans’ lack of retirement planning. A survey conducted by LIMRA, a financial services trade association, showed that approximately 49 percent of Americans say they aren’t contributing to any retirement plan.1 While this trend isn’t exactly new, it’s still a concern considering that retiree health care costs have increased an average 6 percent a year since 2002, according to a study by Fidelity Investments.2 Additionally, according to a new Gallup survey, Americans’ expected retirement age has increased from 60 to 67 over the last decade and a half.3

It’s clear that saving for retirement has become more important than ever, but many pre-retirees wrongly assume that when they reach 65, Medicare will be able to cover most of their health care expenses. Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case, and many Americans are forced to continue working past age 65.4

Of those who are saving for retirement, the vast majority invest their money with banks, brokerage firms, mutual fund companies and insurance companies. The reality is that investing in real estate can give you a much greater return on investment (ROI) because it factors in a unique type of return: cash flow. Cash flow is an immediate return and adds significantly to a property’s overall ROI. For example, the S&P 500 Index from 2000-2011 decreased 23.8 percent. If you were to invest $100,000 dollars in a rental property during the same time period, however, the cash flow you would receive (based on Census Bureau average rent prices) would provide an ROI of 101.8 percent.5

When you consider appreciation rates, real estate has shown less volatility than the S&P 500 Index over the last 40+ years. Real estate has only had 4 years of negative appreciation, the result of our recent housing collapse. The S&P 500, on the other hand, has had 11 years of negative appreciation.6

Real estate investments perform better than bonds and certificates of deposit (CDs) as well. The average bond yield from 2000-2011 is 4.22 percent.7 The average yield of a 6-month CD from the same time period is even less at 2.84 percent.8 Despite the housing market crash, the median sales price of existing homes from those same years, 2000-2011, increased 19.2 percent.9

Unfortunately, many people have shied away from investing in real estate because of the housing market’s activity in recent years. Savvy investors, however, have taken advantage of the new opportunities and continue to find great deals. Many have even invested their retirement funds in real estate and are slated for a secure, comfortable future, while building generational wealth. The little known self-directed IRA option allows for this, and as its name implies, allows the investor to direct his or her investment account activity—real estate included!

In times of increasing retirement living costs and widespread retirement planning oversight, it pays to research your options and take control of your finances—and secure your future.

1CNNMoney (http://money.cnn.com/2012/05/10/retirement/saving-retire/index.htm)

2USA Today (http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/retirement/story/2012-05-09/rising-retirement-health-care-costs/54863320/1)

3Gallup (http://www.gallup.com/poll/154178/expected-retirement-age.aspx)

4USA Today (http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/retirement/story/2012-05-09/rising-retirement-health-care-costs/54863320/1)

5MSN (http://investing.money.msn.com/investments/market-index/?symbol=%24inx)


7Federal Reserve (http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h15/data.htm)


9HUD Historical Data (http://www.huduser.org/portal/periodicals/ushmc/ushmc.html)

Avoiding the 3 Most Common Pitfalls in Real Estate Investing 6/1/2012

New real estate investors can sometimes get caught up in common pitfalls that end up costing them time and money and, ultimately, turning an investment into a bad deal. But not all of these pitfalls are self-evident. Being aware of the potential risks and knowing how to prevent them will help keep you from falling into these traps.

Pitfall 1: Emotion vs. Logic: Buying on emotion, not math.

Most business transactions and investment decisions are based on numbers and whether they make logical sense. Buying a home, however, is an emotional experience—it’s where lives are lived, families are raised, and memories are created. It’s natural for us to hold great emotional value in our dwellings, and we look for homes that are a good fit emotionally. When purchasing a home as an investment, however, it’s important to treat it as such and keep emotions at bay. To be successful in real estate investing, it’s best to think of the purchase as a business transaction or investment—focus on the returns. Calculating the numbers, such as the cash-on-cash return, for example, and determining if a property overall is a logical investment are the most important factors to consider.

Pitfall 2: Dealitis: Thinking that every property is a good deal

There are plenty of inexpensive properties in the current market. Home prices have dropped drastically since 2007. Just because a home is significantly underpriced doesn’t mean it’s a good investment. You need to take the same cautionary steps to evaluate the value of a property listed at $40,000 as you do for a property listed at $400,000. A low-priced property could have serious structural issues, the relative property values in the area could be low, or the property’s expenses could be too high to provide cash flow. Many people wanting to take advantage of the current market’s low home prices have been burned because they didn’t do their homework and acted too quickly. It pays to consider all elements of a real estate investment property. The return will dictate whether the price is right for you.

Pitfall 3: Analysis Paralysis: Spending too much time analyzing and missing opportunities.

The flip side of Dealitis is Analysis Paralysis. Doing your due diligence is important, but you don’t want to take too long to make a decision. With a properly written contract, you’re allowed adequate time to back out if you decide the deal isn’t right. This is what contingency/ inspection periods are for—a thorough inspection and analysis. If you hesitate too long, you might miss a good opportunity.

Even experienced investors can fall into these traps, which is why it can be helpful to work with an agent who specializes in investment properties. There are risks involved with all types of investments, and real estate is no different. But being aware of these pitfalls and having a knowledgeable real estate agent on your side, along with his or her team of professional advisors, will help keep you safe.

Take Control of Your Future: Use Your SD IRA to Invest in Real Estate 4/17/2012

Did you know you could use your nest egg to purchase an investment property and increase its value through cash flow? You can roll your traditional IRA or 401k into a self-directed IRA (SD IRA) and—as the name implies—have direct control over where your funds are invested, namely a cash flow-producing rental property.

Traditional IRAs, in most cases, are distributed among stocks, bonds, and mutual funds at the discretion of the bank or financial institution by which they’re managed. The financial institution acts as the trustee or custodian of the IRA; it distributes, receives, and holds the account funds for the investor. In most cases, the investor is out of touch with his or her investment activity and just hopes for the best.

While approximately 97% of all retirement account assets are invested with banks, brokerage firms, mutual fund companies, and insurance companies, many people don’t know there are other retirement investment options available and that many of these options have greater return capabilities.1 Real estate, limited liability companies, private companies, and joint ventures are just a handful of possibilities. These investments require that you first roll your IRA into a self-directed IRA to allow you to direct its activity. Because self-directed IRAs are less profitable for financial institutions than traditional IRAs, and because fewer institutions are proficient at handling them, they’re more reluctant to communicate this option to investors.2

There’s no penalty for rolling your retirement funds into an SD IRA, but like a traditional IRA, it requires an account custodian. The difference is your ability to tell your custodian where to invest your funds. For example, you can have your custodian purchase real estate with your SD IRA, then hold the property as a rental investment and have the cash flow go back into your SD IRA. As a bonus, the fees associated with SD IRA custodians can be lower than traditional IRA fees.3

It’s much simpler than most people think. The first step is to find an SD IRA custodian. Not all banks and brokerages handle this type of account, and you’ll want to find one that specializes in SD IRAs. And be aware, rolling your IRA into an SD IRA typically takes six to eight weeks.

Once you have your SD IRA all set up, you can make an offer on a selected investment property in the name of your SD IRA. After negotiating a deal, your custodian executes the contract. There’s extra paperwork involved when going this route, but your custodian can help guide you through the process.

If you’re interested in boosting your retirement and diversifying your investments, using an SD IRA to invest in real estate is a great strategy. You’ll want to consult with your accountant and find a custodian who is experienced with SD IRAs. This method is certainly more proactive and lucrative than leaving your retirement funds in the hands of someone else and simply hoping for the best.

1Allen, Matthew M. Leverage Your IRA: Maximize Your Profits with Real Estate, Scottsdale: LIFESUCCESS PUBLISHING, 2010.



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