I often tell people that becoming a millionaire in the real estate business is an easy thing to accomplish. They usually give me a look of bewilderment. I say that you don’t have to understand every aspect of real estate in order to begin investing. The best thing to do is start with a basic buy-and-hold strategy purchasing whatever type of property you are capable of buying with as little money down as possible. How you buy something with as little money down as possible depends on your financial situation and what types of mortgages you’re capable of qualifying for. Since guidelines for mortgages and government intervention changes daily, it’s impossible for me to tell you the best way to do that. I can tell you how I did it for years using the all-money-down technique I described earlier in the book. But I’ll give you a quick refresher course below.If you bought $100,000 house through conventional means, you may have to put 20 percent down is $20,000 plus closing costs that will cost you approximately $3000. In this example, you put $23,000 down to buy $100,000 investment property. Using the all-money-down technique, you would buy a $100,000 property for cash putting all $100,000 down plus the closing costs of $3000. At this point, you have $103,000 down on the property and you begin to invest an additional $5000 to fix the property up. You now have a total of $108,000 of your money into the property. You put the property up for rent and you find a good tenant, so now you’re empty investment property is a business making money and shows a profit. Now you go to the bank and you get the property appraised with the intention of doing a cash-out refinance. Because you fixed up the property and it’s a money-making business, the property appraises for $114,000. The bank is willing to lend you an 80 percent mortgage on the $114,000 appraisal giving you a mortgage of $91,200. You originally put down $103,000 and received back a mortgage for $91,200 making your out-of-pocket costs $11,800.When using the all-money-down technique as compared to buying a property through conventional methods, you save $11,200. Now of course, you’re going to have a higher mortgage and less cash flow coming from the property, but you’re also going to have $11,200 to buy the next property with.Sometimes the homes you buy are going to cost you $10,000 to buy; other times you’re going to break even on the deal. You might even be lucky enough to actually get paid to buy a house, which has happened to me once or twice. The goal was simply to just keep buying as many properties as possible until you build up a portfolio worth millions of dollars. You will make a profit from the cash flow, but most likely that’s going to go back and do things like repairs and vacancies in all the other issues that come up with real estate. If you do end up banking $10,000 during the year from the cash flow of your buildings, there is your down money to buy an additional property and expand your portfolio further.I have constantly repeated that you’re not going to find the cash flow to be something of tremendous value to you. The cash flow will help pay for the necessary things and give you down money for future deals, but in the end you will work hard for very little money. The real surprise will come when you’ve ridden the cycle from bottom to top and created a gap between your portfolio’s value and the amount of mortgages that you owe for the building. Accruing equity in your buildings, you will slowly begin to see your net worth increasing as the years go on.For example let’s just say you bought one property a year for five years valued at $100,000 a property. Since the five years that you bought the properties, values have gone up somewhat and the mortgages have gone down, and your net worth is the equity in between. As you begin to see this throughout your investing career, especially when the market is on the rise, it can be an exciting time.Your expectations should be to live off of the income from your job while the profit from the rental property business is used to fuel its needs. You’ll usually get to a point somewhere when a real conflict will develop between your current career and your real estate investments. It’s hard to be in two places at once, and ultimately it will begin to catch up with you. For me this conflict was easily resolved since I only wanted to be doing real estate anyway, but if you love your day job and you plan to continue it through your life, you’re going to have to make some tough decisions. You could keep your day job, but someone is going to have to run your portfolio.I maintain that getting a seven-figure net worth in equity strictly in your real estate holdings is not that difficult to do. I recommend you join real estate investment clubs and read as many books as you possibly can. As you begin to make investments, you’ll find friends in the businesses that relate to your industry such as people in the mortgage business. I recommend that you associate with as many of these people as possible so that your knowledge of the industry expands tremendously.A friend of mine who’s an intelligent guy took some of this advice and began moving quickly. In his first year, I think he bought two properties, but by his second year he was already doing $300,000 flips and buying multiunit investment properties with a partner that he has. First of all, I’m not a big fan of partnership for the deal size he was doing, and second, I think he was growing a little too fast. If he didn’t have a job, I wouldn’t have a problem with the speed of his growth, but because he had a well-paying job, I cautioned him not to move too fast. The second half of 2009 was a rough year for him as his $300,000 flip was not selling, and he’s already had to do two evictions. Carrying the mortgage and his $300,000 flip was expensive and was already causing some tension in his partnership. It’s not going to be all fun and games; as your portfolio grows, your problems grow with it and the workload grows.Another thing I can say about the issues in the real estate business is that they seem to come in waves. Even when I owned dozens of homes, I would go six months where I wouldn’t need to change a doorknob and then all of a sudden all hell would break loose. I’d be dealing with an eviction, two vacancies, and apartments that were destroyed. When it rains it pours in the real estate business; at least that’s the way it worked out for me. I remember on two separate occasions during the summertime one year followed by the next summer a year later I was bombarded with all kinds of issues. In this business, you can’t let a vacant property sit and wait because you’re losing money every day it’s not rented. The process of getting it renovated and re-rented is the highest importance.As bad as I make it sound, I think you’ll find it all to be worth it in the end. It seems that no matter how much money I made, I have learned in my career I never really save. As you earn more money, your lifestyle increases and you begin to upgrade your homes and cars to the point where your bills go right along with your salary. The real estate business is almost like a bank account you really can’t touch easily without selling a building, so it continues to grow and feed off of itself. It’s a terrific feeling when you realize that your $550,000 portfolio experienced a 10 percent increase in values in the last year and you’re up an additional $55,000.I’m using the same principles today in the commercial arena buying larger buildings with similar strategies. I can’t buy a $3 million building with the technique, but there are many other things that can be worked out in the commercial world. Nowadays I use strategies that involve complex negotiations with the sellers where I convince them to carry paper or lease option the building. I can also borrow money from banks for commercial investments giving the bank that piece of real estate I am buying as collateral as well as existing pieces of real estate as collateral. I call it redundant collateralization and am seeing more and more of it every day from banks.If you can go from broke to seven figures in one real estate cycle as I’ve suggested easily making yourself $1 million during your first real estate cycle, then just imagine what you can do in your second real estate cycle. I plan to be carrying a real estate portfolio with the value north of $10 million and have that portfolio under my control before the real estate market begins to show any gains. I expect the gains will begin to show sometime around 2013 or later. Can you imagine if you’re holding a $10 million portfolio and the real estate market goes up a meager five percentage points? It doesn’t matter how much money I made that year in income because as long as I can keep my business afloat I am up half a million dollars in equity in one year. If I’m ever lucky enough to see the crazy increases that we saw in 2005, can you imagine what it will feel like to see a 20 percent increase in values in one year when you’re holding a portfolio worth eight figures?”Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” Theodore RooseveltLet’s dream about holding a portfolio worth $12 million when the market goes up 20 percent giving me a one-year tax free gain of $2,400,000. I believe that this is a realistic expectation for my second cycle of the real estate business. In the year 2025, I will be sixty years old. I feel certain that if I continue to just do what I’ve been doing my whole life, I surely should have a net worth of many millions of dollars strictly for my real estate holdings. I know of no other way to make money in these types of numbers as easily as I do in the real estate business. I don’t deny that other people have the means to make this kind of money or even more, but I am not familiar with those methods. I consider myself an expert on real estate, and I certainly feel as some of the things I’m talking about here will happen to me as long as I’m lucky enough to still be breathing when 2025 rolls around.This is why I love the real estate business, and this is why I’m pumped every day to get out and keep it going because I can see my future is filled with bright and sunny days. I feel terrific about getting up in the morning and going to work, and when you have that kind of attitude, there’s no way you can fail. This morning I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and went to my office building to reorganize some equipment in our communication room. I’m spending some afternoon hours on a Sunday working on my book and feeling great about my possibilities. If you love what you do, you will be much happier and much more successful at whatever you try.I don’t even consider the things that I did this morning or writing this book as work in the regular way people think of it. Obviously, it is work that I’m doing, but I don’t have a negative feeling about the word work or what it entails. I get a terrific sense of accomplishment from getting up in the morning and making things that happen furthering along my career each day in baby steps toward the ultimate goal of massive wealth accumulation. I hope that some of you reading this book will really grasp the things I’m talking about above. I feel that may be the most important message in the entire book.Here’s an idea you should think about after you buy your first property. Make sure that you take some time after you bought it to really analyze what’s going to be involved in being a real estate landlord. If you like it or even love it, let’s get the party started, and if you don’t get out right now. If you’re going to proceed in the business just for the money but despise dealing with tenants and working on buildings, you really have to be careful and reconsider what you’re about to do. This business is not for wimps, and it takes a heck of a lot of guts to be a real estate investor. To get to the level that I have achieved, you may have to take half of your net worth and roll the dice on some large commercial building risking the twenty years of hard work on one deal. Until you go through that process, I can never truly explain to you what that will feel like. My name is Phil, and I’m addicted to real estate.
The good news is that San Diego home prices have increased for the past eleven months in a row. A positive outlook would suggest that the real estate decline bottomed in April 2009 and that housing prices will continue with, at least, modest appreciation.Recently a local news headline noted San Diego home price appreciation outpaced the rest of the nation. Another headline stated that San Diego County house prices rose 11.7% in April 2010, as compared to April 2009. This was said to be the fastest rate of annual appreciation increase in the nation. Plus, San Diego County home prices have been rebounding for the past year after their 40% decline from the top of the market in 2005.In light of the above news, one would be hard-pressed not to agree with the consensus opinion that the bottom has been reached in the San Diego real estate market; the current recovery seems to be outpacing the national averages.In 2005, I wrote an article entitled “A trend to go national” where I predicted that the trends I saw occurring in our local housing market, which defined classic irrational exuberance, were not only about to take down the local market, but I believed, would affect the entire nation. I was not alone in raising the caution flags about the real estate market, and those who were caught up in the exuberance of the market as well as many media outlets, coined the term bubblehead to myself and others, to imply a certain foolishness to those who would speak out against such a powerful and (certain to be) continued annual double-digit home appreciation.It was difficult to raise the caution flags in 2005. The San Diego real estate market from 2000 to 2005 appreciated on average approximately 20% per year. Until the summer of 2005, when the sales volume started to fall but the prices were still appreciating, there weren’t obvious signs of pending trouble, especially to the layperson. Most did not foresee a market collapse. Even in the latter part of 2005, while the slowing market became quite evident, the conventional consensus of opinion was that it was just a normal pullback. Most optimistic outlooks touted a strong market and a great opportunity for many to purchase real estate in San Diego before the upswing resumed.Now it is July of 2010. Similar though different, market conditions make it again difficult to go against the conventional trend which is stating that a bottom has been put in place and we are on an upward rebound. I recently attended a seminar by a prominent real estate economist who forecast a slow but steady rise in local home values. His charts and facts presented at the seminar were quite impressive. Not being a real estate agent or broker “in the trenches,” I believe his data was not reflecting the most current conditions, especially after the expiration of the federal tax credits.It’s hard to say exactly what effect the $8000 federal tax credit for home buyers had on the real estate market. Personally I believe it to be very similar to the government’s cash for clunkers program, whereby, it pulled buyers from future months into the current program. The result was an increase in the actual housing demand and values for people trying to get in before the credit expired. When the cash for clunkers program ended, auto sales took a nose dive for a number of months before finally stabilizing.The federal $8000 credit ended on April 30, 2010. If you had a property in escrow on or before April 30, and closed it before the end of June (now extended through September) you would be eligible for the credit if you qualified. The housing figures now being reported reflect this activity created by the $8000 credit. As long as the property went into escrow by April 30, sales could close in May and June which still affects housing numbers. Housing sales reports are usually closed sales and unlike the stock market, it takes some time for a property to go through escrow.The first housing numbers to be reported, that don’t reflect as much of the effect of the government’s $8000 tax credit will be sales for July, reported during August. California instituted its own tax credit which went into effect on May 1, 2010. Only 100 million was allocated for this and the California franchise tax Board reported that as of June 15, 80% of this amount had been allocated.One could speculate that the current slowdown I’ve seen in San Diego neighborhoods would not be reflected in reports for closed sales until August. On July 1, the national Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes dropped 30% in May from April. For the Western states this drop was reported as 20.9%. Though the West obviously was doing better than the rest of the country, the huge double-digit declines are a major red flag that cannot be ignored.Don’t be fooled by the media talking heads’ effervescent housing recovery rhetoric. Keep in mind that many of their sponsors and advertisers are from real estate related industries. Plus, many of the same media talking heads were the same folks who stated there was no real estate bubble and any slowdown was an opportunity to jump into the market in the summer of 2005.As an active San Diego California real estate broker I could see a marked decline in real estate activity, in many local areas, right after the April 30 federal tax credit expiration. Homes listed for sale that just a few weeks earlier would’ve gotten multiple showings in one week, are now lucky to be shown once a week. Indications from local escrow companies and from a major San Diego mortgage company indicate that this slowing trend is significant and widespread throughout San Diego County.What’s really troubling, is that the government tax credit was not enough to jumpstart our local housing market. Plus, the fact that this new downturn has started in the seasonally adjusted hottest marketing timeframe, coupled with historically low home mortgage interest rates, would indicate that as we approach Fall and Winter, this trend could easily accelerate and in a real real estate market bottom in late 2011 or 2012.San Diego is the third most real estate dependent area in the country (with Orlando and Miami being the first and second respectively) the general San Diego economy should also experience a double-dip until the real housing market bottom is in place.