Your Questions About Real Estate Investing Tips

Donald asks…

Need advice from landlords?

I would like to have some helpful advice from landlords. I am considering investing in real estate. I’m not sure if I would rent out a single family home or a duplex apartment. Is it better to rent a small apartment or to rent out a house? If you have any other advice and tips you would like to offer as a landlord (through lessons learned) please offer.

John answers:

They can both be good, but it depends on the demand in your area. I own two rental properties. One is a house, and one is a duplex with an upper-lower arrangement. Have had the same renters in all three for seven years or more. Hey are all really good renters, so I have never raised their rent. If one of them ever leaves, I might consider charging more, but good renters are hard to come by and I am happy to have them. I never went the apartment rental route, because where I live…rental houses are few and far between, and most of them are kinda crappy. There are advantages to both, I suppose. For instance, I have to take care of the lawn issues and snow removal. If you bought an apartment and rented it, you wouldn’t personally be responsible for maintenance, but would still have to pay it monthly with association dues…far more expensive than what the actual cost is. Really….it’s pretty cheap to maintain the property. I pay a kid $6 bucks a week for the one house, and $9 bucks a week for the other…to cut the grass. Snow removal is just when we get more than 3 inches…then it costs about $20 to clear the driveways and sidewalks. Of course, you can always write seasonal maintenance into your lease and make the renter responsible. I didn’t, because I wanted to make sure my properties always looked good and didn’t want to give up control of that. But it’s up to you. Overall, before you invest and think you are going to just rent out and make a crap load of money…let me warn you that finding a good renter is not easy. I went through several crummy renters before finding the ones I have now. You also REALLY need to consider your long-term goals, and what your market is like right now. If there are a lot of properties on the market, you might have a hard time renting. And if you are just thinking of one rental, you need to consider that you may not really make any money on the property until it’s paid off, but can use it for collateral and build home equity, only….which is what I did. ALSO…investment properties…from the start…are more difficult to finance. So if you can’t pay cash for the property and need to take out a loan, you might have a tougher time with it…especially now, with all the stingy banks.

Mary asks…

How Can I Start Investing In R.E.O Properties?

Hi Im 21 years old and received my Real Estate License about a year ago. Im pretty new to this business but I know I will be succesful if i work hard. Im really interested in R.E.O properties. I want to start investing in these properties because I know there’s a lot of money to be made especially here in Los Angeles. Problem is I don’t have sufficient credit to acquire a loan yet. Are there any investors out there that can give me some tips as to pursuing this goal?…..Thanks

John answers:

Being a Realtor will make it very easy to watch homes that could be good investments, and make offers after they have been on the market a few months.

Since you don’t have enough credit right now, I would suggest joining a local real estate investor’s group to meet investors and see what others are doing in your area. I would imagine in this market that you will need to learn about the landlord laws in your area as you probably will need other options besides just reselling.

My best advice is to learn as much as you can, and don’t rush into buying until you have an understanding of several different exit strategies. There’s nothing worse for your credit than to get over-extended and have houses that won’t sell.

Good luck!

Richard asks…

Is it the right time to move out?

I’m 24, single and living in my parents basement. I don’t like the sound of that. I want things to change. I would like to be more independent and start to live like an adult. I’ve been investing for the last 6 years now and just opened up a savings account. I figure I have enough to make a down payment of 20% of a house/condo. When I’m at home, I just feel like I’m going crazy! I just need a sense of freedom. How much should I put down towards a new place? 20%? I don’t know. If anyone has any tips on real estate, please let me know.

John answers:

I think its about time for you to move out and for how much down it all depends on where you are going to live and information like that you can actually call places that you like and find out how much you should put down!

Paul asks…

I am thinking about becoming a realtor.. Any tips or is now a bad time?

I currently have a BS in Biology and planned on attending medical school. With the current debates about Medical policies, insurance, Obama care, etc. I have been leaning against this. I have had several friends finish medical school and have not been placed yet. I want to start a job soon and go ahead and begin my future and hopefully my family. Lately, all I can think about is Real Estate. I know the market is down but I have a strong passion for it and help a couple of people who are already in it.

I would love to get any advice for people who are already Realtors. Should I take the plunge? Do you love your job and is it profitable at this time? I am a dedicated, enthusiastic person who knows the time and patience this job would require. I just don’t want to invest all this energy into something that isn’t paying right now. Any tips or advice would be much appreciated. I live in Texas. Thank you!

John answers:

I was a Realtor and became a broker and a RE developer over 20yrs. I loved it and did every kind of RE related deal you could imagine. Many very smart, wise, savvy, knowledgeable and previously successful RE pros are struggling to make a living. If it’s the ONLY thing you want to do professionally at this time, go for it. But know that it’s a SALES business. Your personality must sell itself and you have to be A HIGHLY MOTIVATED Self starter. I Wish you great success

Carol asks…

How to effectively hedge against inflation? (Complex, multi-part question)?

I’m not a investment guru by any stretch of the imagination, so please forgive any ignorance, errors, or awkward questions asked out of doubt.

From what I’ve read, it seems inflation will start to hit next year. (yes? no? civil thoughts?) I’m considering protecting myself with the following strategy:

1. TIPS – Apparently, the only good way to play these is in an account w/ a tax benefit. (Does this mean: Roth IRA? Roth 401k?) I have a Fidelity 401K account (can invest in both Roth and non-Roth 401k), a T.Rowe price 401k account (from previous job), and a TDAmeritrade trading account. Should I keep some of my funds in my Fidelity account in a TIPS fund (Roth or non-Roth)? What fund should I be looking for? I guess I can open an IRA through Ameritrade and look for TIPS funds to invest in?

2. Gold, Platinum, Palladium, Silver — I might have missed the boat on Gold? I’ve looked at ticker=GLD. Is Palladium a safe bet? How does one play Palladium? Thoughts on investing in any of these?

3. Real Estate – I gather this is not the best way to deal w/ inflation, but I just bought a smaller second house. I guess the best way to deal with this is to get a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, and pay it off later when inflation makes the outstanding balance “cheaper”. In the meantime, I’m going to try to keep it rented.

I realize this is a complex question. Just fishing for thoughts. Thanks.

John answers:

1) TIPS do protect you against inflation. However the federal government’s dirty little trick here is that you get more interest, which the federal government taxes. So much of the protection you get in buying TIPS goes into Obama’s pocket in the form of higher taxes. Another hidden tax he is laying on those making less than $250,000 a year.

2) I like gold. I prefer gold mining stocks as they are easier to buy and sell with less commissions than on gold bullion and you don’t have to pay to store or insure it. My favorites are Goldcorp (GG) and Kinross Gold (KGC).

3) Real estate is iffy at best. You’ve seen the prices of real estate plummet the last few years. But this may be a buying opportunity.

One that you missed is oil or oil companies. I actually prefer oil as the world will eventually run out of it. We’ll never run out of gold as we don’t burn it away the way we do oil. Oil as you well know is well off it’s high of around $150. Where gold is still pretty close to it’s high. My favorite oil stock is Marathon Oil (MRO). A smaller company which may get bought out as larger oil companies look to increase their reserves.

Good luck in your investments. It’s important to hedge against the inflation that Obama is about to rain down on us.

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