Real Estate Investing in Rentals – the “$10 Million Real Estate Investing Mistake”

Renting to tenants is no longer “where the money is” for real estate investing. I became a multi-millionaire landlord in the 1980s by buying $10 million in rental houses. Yet, I consider this real estate investing approach the biggest mistake in my real estate investing career. I call it my “$10 Million Mistake.”

Back then, real estate investing in rentals was buying a house, renting it to tenants for a rental fee that covered the mortgage, and waiting for an increase in value. Interest rates were as high as 25%. Inflation was rampant. You could buy a house, and it would almost double in value in 10 or so years.

Boy, have things changed in real estate investing! Interest rates have recently been the lowest in 46 years. Inflation is flat. The same rental house in some areas is appraising for less today than it appraised three years ago. The major profit to real estate investing in rentals is the pay-down of the mortgage by the tenant. Otherwise, profit comes from the difference between the rental fee and the mortgage payment.

One month vacancy per year, which is not uncommon, might convert into an annual investment loss, even if (1) tenants don’t leave owing rent, (2) the property is not damaged, or (3) repair cost is negligible. All of these possibilities are very unlikely.

One month vacancy per year can eliminate usage profit for the year. Spend your time on fix up repairs, even part time, and you go more in the hole. How much you lose depends on how much your time is worth.

Real estate investing is intended to be profitable. Vacancies, repairs, and time expenditure might mean you are only making a donation to the great cause of improving the nation’s housing.
The scenario changes if the mortgage is negligible and note payments are significantly less than rents. But the beginning investor does not often create this situation.

Fixing up properties for resale is a better venue for real estate investing today. Go a step beyond the norm, and learn how to help a renter get financing for your fixed up house. Go another step by converting a junker into a “Dream House,” and you will attract prospects to your property like bees to honey. Turning a “Plain Jane” into a “Doll House” demands extra work, but attracts better quality buyers. Real estate investing is extremely profitable, but your choice of real estate investing venue is critical to optimal profitability.

Between Real Estate and Reality Or Between Realty and Reality

You hit the ground running hoping to sprint your way to the finish line. You may have gotten winded with the realization that real estate investing is a marathon and not a 50 yard dash. Or you may have tripped over the start line coming out of the gate. Either way, your investing career is going nowhere fast. You’ve got a full time job that’s getting in the way of your big plans. Being a full time real estate investor is closer than you think. Here’s how to work around your full time job and build towards a better tomorrow – today.

First, change the way you look at your 9 to 5 job. Think of the paycheck you earn as a consulting fee – income for your real estate investing business. It covers your basic needs while providing you with some of the cash you need to keep the doors of You, Inc. open for business. When your consulting day is over you simply move into the next phase of your day: prospecting for new business opportunities.

Every day I want you to do something to drive your investing career forward. So set aside a block of time for these activities. If all you can spare is 90 minutes per day, make the best use you can of the time you have available. Look through some of your on-line resources to quickly locate properties that meet your investing criteria and then follow through. Don’t make a list and call it a day.

If you systematically do small things that move you in the direction of making a property purchase, you will succeed. You can and will make that first – or fiftieth – property purchase, regardless of your employment situation. It will take some planning on your part to make it happen. But, you also need to find a good way of motivating yourself to take action.

When you pulled the trigger and fired on a new real estate investing career, your eyes were glazed over with child-like wonder at the possibilities that real estate investing gives you. Don’t be afraid to admit it. You had a target in mind when you pulled the trigger. You had a tangible goal of some kind or you never would have taken that first step.

Every one of us had – and probably still does have – a dream we’re working towards. It might be to donate $1 million to fight AIDS in Africa, to build a Little League ballpark with your name on it, or even something less altruistic: A desire to get very rich. Real estate investing is still the best vehicle for achieving your dreams. Whatever they are, I want you to capture the essence of those dreams; a photograph or something that symbolizes what you can do with the fruits of your labor to create a vivid daily reminder of your goal.

Place that reminder in a conspicuous place – on a bathroom mirror or a counter top – as a daily reminder of what you want to do with some of your real estate investing proceeds. If it’s too large for a mirror, take a picture of it. This is an important step because it will help to motivate and reinvigorate you when you begin losing your focus. Look at it several times a day beginning first thing in the morning.

Your dreams – whatever they are – provide the fuel you need to take action on those days you’d rather just be a channel-surfing couch potato. You will achieve your dreams, but you may need additional ammunition in your arsenal to make it happen. In addition to having a dream you should:

– Set specific goals for yourself – These goals should be specific, quantifiable and attainable. Instead of having a goal that says, “I want to be rich within five years.” you should put a firm number on it. “Within five years I’m going to own 15 properties with a monthly cash flow of $15,000 (or whatever figure you set).

– Create a vision – On a daily basis look at the symbol of your dream. If it’s a picture, carefully look at it – really LOOK at it – and declare your commitment to achieving your dreams.

– Believe in yourself and your abilities – It’s sometimes easy to listen to naysayers and negative people. Avoid these people like the plague. They’re like a cancer that will eat away at your dreams if you let them. Don’t allow it to happen. You can achieve your dreams and your goals if you believe it can happen and you take action.

One final point: If you’re waiting for a telegram from destiny telling you that it’s time to step up and make it happen, this is it. Your success is waiting for you. No day will be absolutely perfect. Today is better than yesterday because yesterday is dead and gone. Tomorrow hasn’t yet been born. By living in the magic of the moment you can seize your real estate investing destiny, lay claim to your future, and begin the process of consigning your 9 to 5 job to the annals of history.

Real estate investing is kind of like the lottery. You’ve got to get in it to win it and you can’t really get into it sitting on your couch thinking about how you’re going to spend the money when you finally get up and get started.

So go ahead.

Put the remote on the coffee table and take the first step.

Charitable Giving Real Estate

Recently traveling through West Virginia on my way out West to the Plains of Texas and the Hot New Mexico Desert, I met with a financial planner at a coffee shop and we discussed many new strategies of giving away money. Perhaps you are not aware but giving away money is one of the hardest things to do correctly.

Anyone can donate money, but giving the right way is extremely difficult. In fact when Warren Buffet and Bill Gates merged their Foundation Assets and Warren came aboard as a Trustee, they mentioned this exact challenge and they were concerned about this.

During my coffee shop conversation we discussed the Charitable giving of real estate and the gentleman from West Virginia also a member of the State Legislature told me of an older lady who donated her families hotel to a Church in Charleston WV. The way it was done was very smart. The Church took out an annuity life insurance policy for the lady and she gave them the building.

People often donate millions to American Cancer Society this way and the organization buys them an Annuity. Yet it works even better if you consider this can be done for a Boys and Girls Club or some other purpose locally in the community such as hospice or historical society.

It is great to see the charitable giving in American and around the world from our people both on the massive scale of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the small scale giving in local communities. Consider all this in 2006.