Tag Archives: investing in real estate

Is Your House Helping Or Holding You Back?

On my December cruise, I overheard a whole lot of people talking about the purchase of their home. This isn’t scientific and I have no clue where they live. There’s also no such thing as an average price. There’s a difference between New York city or White Rock and rural Saskatchewan or Wisconsin.

One couple was talking about a $104,000 purchase. Another paid $127,000 two years ago, another just refinanced their $185,000 home. We’ll never see those prices in the Okanagan, lower mainland, or here in Edmonton, or Calgary. Our prices start with a 4 or a 5…and that’s if we’re lucky.

Incomes aren’t really different in the US and Canada. But what would our life be like if we didn’t have mortgage payments double or triple those of someone who didn’t come close to paying half our purchase price? It’s not as though we all choose to live in a mansion. If that were so, we would deserve the huge payments that come with a chosen lifestyle. We’re paying the huge taxes, utilities, upkeep and mortgage payments because our prices are so much higher. We’re now one of the highest countries in our income to debts at 1.6 times. The US is down to 1.1 times. So we’re way broker than Americans, and a large part of that is our cost of housing.

I’m not wishing for a housing crash, and that wouldn’t solve anything anyway. But, if I had a $150,000 home, I would now be mortgage free and have over $200,000 saved. That would have been the monthly payment after the house was paid off diverted into investments. Instead, you, me, and tons of Western Canadians can’t really save much, because it’s all going into our homes.

I don’t have an answer, because I’m not moving to rural Saskatchewan or Wisconsin. Even selling my home and renting won’t put me ahead financially. It’s just depressing sometimes to think of how much of our finite incomes go into our homes. It’s also nice to dream sometimes of what it’d be like to be mortgage free before age 30. That isn’t hard when the house cost $140,000 or so and the interest is tax deductible…

If you actually have money and are investing, you might want to check with your financial or investment advisor on something in the area of housing. Real Estate Investment Trust (REITs) are not normally something to invest in when rates are about to rise. But there is, and will continue to be, a stall in home sales. Right now, the 20 to 30 something generation is still buried in $1.3 trillion student loan debt. They aren’t buying homes, because they can’t qualify for a mortgage, so first time homebuyers are a rare breed in the market. As a result, they’ll continue to rent, and that’s what REITs are all about. Don’t do it because I said so, but the logic makes sense.

Finally a Number of Get Rich Quick Schemes Are Exposed

For the past few years we’ve been inundated with many get rich seminars, DVDs, free workshops, and infomercials. I’ve talked about them in the past, without mentioning names, but now it’s great to be specifically talk about these scams. Because that’s what they were, and are:

The Consumer Protection Bureau (of the FTC) has now charged some of these infomercial people with defrauding “thousands of people of over $300 million,” in their words. These include John Beck’s Amazing Profits from Real Estate, John Alexander’s Real Estate Riches in 14 days, and Jeff Paul, who has been marketing infomercials for over three years, scamming people on how to make millions on the internet.

The FTC says they’re fraud, and these people are also being charged criminally. “Thousands of people have been swindled out of millions of dollars by scammers who are exploiting the economic downturn,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Their scams may promise job placement, access to free government grant money, or the chance to work at home. In fact, the scams have one thing in common—they raise people’s hopes and then drive them deeper into a hole.”

Like most investments or credit rip-offs, if it sounds too good to be true, it’s too good to be true! No money down, invest in property with no down payments, or make $50,000 a month on the internet? No way, no how – never, ever!

In the 1920s the stock market collapsed when everybody needed only 10% down to buy stocks. What was the result? The great depression.

In the past few years, it was buying real estate with no money down. As a result, tons of people bought numerous investment properties. I know of a doctor in California that had eight investment properties. For the first two he used the equity in his own home, the other six are financed with no money down. Today, he’s lost his own home, and all eight so-called investment properties have been foreclosed, and he’s now bankrupt. How do you think everyone else is doing today?

In the past five years, investment firms like Lehman Brothers were allowed to leverage themselves at 33 to 1. That’s one dollar of investments used to borrow 33 times that amount. Where are those investment firms today? Every one of them is out of business, bankrupt, or was forced into a sale or merger.

These days, it’s seminars on how to get rich through real estate foreclosures, and that everybody should be dumping stocks and buying gold.

Gold over the long term barely beats inflation in return percentages. It reached $850 in 1980 before tanking. For someone who purchased gold in 1980, it would have to be at $2,300 today, adjusted for inflation just for them to break even. So today, we’re barely half-way to recovery from the ‘80’s. Yet there are ads and commercials everywhere wanting us to get rich and dump all of our money into gold.

If we’re starting to think about some of our financial goals for 2010, sorry, there are no shortcuts to getting rich. It’s slow and steady, paying off our debts, living on less than we earn, and saving some money each month. Most of the rest of these programs or scams will likely leave you in debt, and not on easy street. You can take my word for it, or do a little research before jumping into anything, or find out the hard way.