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A Darling Little House

July 15, 2017 by  
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Many years ago, I wrote a book called The Courage to be Rich. This week, I re-read some of that book and, in particular, a chapter entitled “How Yuks Can Create Big Bucks”. It reminded me again that making money by acquiring beat up, old, dirt bag properties and adding your own sweat equity can make a person rich today in the exact same way it did 30 and 40 years ago. In fact, right now, with many properties selling for top dollar, it makes even more sense to lower your financial risk by investing in these kinds of properties. Here is an excerpt from that section of the book.

Changing a Tacky Dump into a Swiss Chalet

I really couldn’t believe what I saw. A few years ago, while driving down a street in Salt Lake City, I glanced over at a little white house, maybe a thousand square feet at the most, and I just about drove off the road. The formerly grungy house had been completely transformed. Instead of a tacky little house complete with cluttered yard, worn grass, and garbage cans by the porch, I saw a cute, Swiss chalet cottage. The change was so stunning that I pulled over to stop and stare.

At first glance, it seemed that someone had spent a ton of dough making the property shine. Upon closer inspection, I found that the changes made on the outside of the property were quite inexpensive. The dirty sides of the house had been covered up by a fresh coat of paint, and Swiss style shutters with decorative patterns had been placed on either side of the windows. The garbage cans had been moved from the front yard to the back. For extra frosting, a white picket fence had been put along the front of the yard. One other conspicuous difference was a FOR SALE sign prominently displayed.

I was totally amazed at the change, but even more amazed at my reaction to the changes! I had, for years, been in the business of buying properties that needed fixing up and, after some work, would resell or refinance them at substantial profits.

Prior to stopping at this house, I considered myself very smart and successful at what I did. But here is the huge shocking part of this experience. My first reaction was: “What a cute little house! It’s absolutely darling. I should buy it!”

Talk about dumb–really dumb. Here I am in the business of buying dirt bag properties, fixing them up and making big money selling them and this little house almost fooled me into buying it. But now as I think about it, that experience is teaching me a big lesson.

Almost everybody would rather buy a property that looks nice and new and pretty. That’s just normal in us human beings. That’s why people are making money by fixing and fancying up beat up houses and apartments. And now in today’s market where a lot of properties are at top prices, these types of properties are the safer investment. You can greatly increase your chance of making money by doing the simple fixes that stand out and grab people’s attention!

That darling Swiss looking house certainly did it for me and needs to be duplicated. Or should I say, “Hey, here is another way showing how you can make big bucks from yuks.”

Build Your Wealth with the Help of Inflation

April 1, 2016 by  
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If you’ve been reading the last couple posts, you may be asking, can I get more specifics on this 15% rate of return morphing into a huge 60% return? Well, let’s go over some specific examples.

First of all, let’s have a quick review of what I call natural inflation vs forced inflation. Natural inflation is what our general economy goes through over time. It lifts the price of everything especially assets that are in limited supply, like land and houses. Because of this natural inflation many people, if not most, find that owning their own home has increased their net worth by a huge amount without much effort on their part. The average price of an existing home in America increased in value by $56,200 dollars from 2012 to February 2016 or from a price of $154,600 to $210,800 on average. So, without much effort on the part of the home owner, homes increased in value by 36% over those 4 years or 8% per year compounded. Not a bad investment with so little effort made.

Now let’s take an example to demonstrate what so called ‘forced inflation’ can do even if you don’t count on natural inflation. Let’s say you bought that $154,600 house back in 2012, or even last week for that matter, and put 20 % down or $30,920 and then spent another $7,730 or 5% to fix it up. If you found a house that needed a good bit of fixing up plus you did the kind of improvements that really lifted the curb appeal and the overall value, you most likely would have lifted the value by 15% percent which would raise its market price to $177,900.

If you sell it at that price, you would pull $23,300 out of it plus your personal investment of $38,630 (for down payment and fix ups) as well. That 23,300 is 60% of your personal investment. Where else can you get that kind of return? And remember, if you keep up that kind of investment and return over 20 years you could turn less than $40k into a whopping $459 million! I’m pretty sure that’s well worth your efforts.

If you feel uncertain about what improvements will really increase your investment return, take a look around and see what houses in the area are bringing in top dollar and figure out what they have that the slow and low selling houses don’t Also, pick the brains of those people that are good at seeing what brings in high prices. Do your research to find where your efforts will be most heavily rewarded.

You should also research the home prices in your area before you buy. You can go online and search your city or state and see what the average or median price is for existing homes. Many sites will even tell you what the natural inflation has been in the past. If you get the right deal, that natural inflation might well add on another 8% to the 15% you added to the value of your investment. And let me tell you, those kinds of returns over the years will blow your mind even more!

 

Make America and You Greater

March 11, 2016 by  
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I think most of us are getting pretty feed up and bored with politics lately.  I mean every time you turn around you see or hear more news about the race for the White House and, of course, the face you see most often is that of Donald Trump.  I don’t know about you but I’ve had enough of that big bully, loud-mouthed Trump to last a life-time.  This know-it-all thinks he’s the smartest man in the world but his campaign slogan is “Make America Great Again”. Every time I see that baseball cap with those words on it, I think, “Wow … when did America stop being great?”

I’ve traveled the world, visiting 84 different countries as well as living two years in the middle east and two years in England and I can say, without hesitation, that we have a great country and it’s constantly getting greater. I fear that might not hold true if Trump became president, however.

Ours truly is a land of great freedom and opportunity where you can start off being dirt poor and still become a millionaire. It happened in the 1930’s and in the 1970’s and it’s still happening today. So how does a person take advantage of our freedom’s and opportunities?

Continuing on last week’s post about the power of the brain and how we can program and teach our brain with enough repetition to act automatically without conscious thought, here’s the beginning key to achieving financial greatness in our great country. Step one is to start training your brain to calculate out at least 10% of every single dollar you earn and then you set it aside and never spend it and I mean NEVER. This is investment money, not spending money. So just keep doing that over and over again until it is such an automatic habit that you don’t even have to consciously think about it.

If you have followed me very long you know what comes next.  You take those savings after months or years and wisely invest them.  And that, my friends, is the beginning of a sure fire way to become wealthy in one of the greatest countries in the world, if not the greatest.

Next week I’ll lay out the best investments to make in today’s economy and the way to make those investments. You get started on the savings part and I’ll get you prepared for investing in the great USA.

 

Real Estate Investing: The Advantages Never Change

September 12, 2015 by  
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Yesterday I was going through a bunch of old files and I came across a large envelope that my good friend Joe Sugarman sent me. Joe is the founder of the company that introduced the Blueblocker sunglasses that sold millions, making Joe a very, very rich man. In the package was a few of my old ads that Joe had kept.  On the old yellowed paper I re-read one of my first half page ads printed in the Wall Street Journal on January 25, 1977. The headline read “How to Achieve Total Financial Freedom”.  I am totally convinced that the reason the ad sold so many copies of my first book, How to Wake Up the Financial Genius Inside You, had less to do with the semi-catchy headline than the sub-header that read, “Millionaires Are Not 100 Times Smarter Than You, They Just Know The Wealth Formula”. I’m sure that most people read that and it rang true to them. Because it is true.

In the body of the ad I went on to say, “Millionaires are not 100 or even 10 times smarter than you , but it is a fact that millionaires are making 10 to 50 or even 100 times more than you.” Additionally, I should consider that millionaires are not working 100 or even 20 times harder or longer than you either. There are not enough hours in the day to work 20 times longer than your average worker! And now, 38 years later, I can clearly see that the formula to making big money and accumulating great wealth is basically the same today as it was way back then.

I can tell you for sure that if I were just starting out now as a young man without any money to speak of, just like I was years ago, I would pursue the same path as I did back then.  The only difference would be that I might be a little more aggressive today than I was then. Today’s market is ripe for the picking!  For the most part the only push back that I have had in recent years from readers of the Financial Genius book is that buying properties at the prices given in the book are just not possible in today’s market.  And those critics are absolutely correct, but the ratios are still pretty much the same.  In other words today you can’t find “dirt bag” properties for prices like $40,000 or $50,000 in most markets. And that’s correct.  But the ratios for what you can make on your investment are still the same.

In many cases, you can gain a 33% value increase on a dirt bag property you fix up. On a $50,000 property, that would be a little more than $66,000. But today, you may have to pay $120,000 or $200,000 dollars for a beat up property but after fixing it up, you could sell the $120,000 purchase for at least $159,000 and the $200,000 investment for $266,000 or more. Yes, these numbers don’t take into account the money you spent on fixing it up, but if you leveraged the deal with a mortgage–using someone else’s money to make money–you will find that the return on your investment goes up a ton and will usually more than make up for your fix up expenses.  So bottom line here is don’t get hung up on the lower price examples in the book, invest and pay attention to the percentages you can gain.

To help with that, I have recently updated my Financial Genius book. It will be going to the printer before too long and I will let you know here when it’s ready for ordering.

The Failing of Stock Market Investments: Human Nature

September 5, 2015 by  
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In last week’s blog I talked about the wild stock market moves and the huge sell off, which was followed quickly by a rebound of prices. Since then we’ve had another pull back of prices once again erasing some of the gains. Some people would point to the big spring back of prices and make the argument against my conclusion that for most people investing in ‘real estate’ is a much better place for their money.

It is true that, in most cases, the market does rebound and in the long run you can make some money there as long as you buy good growing companies. The key here, as Warren Buffett has preached for years, is to buy the right stocks and hold them for the very long term. The big problem, however, is most people don’t do that. Why? It seems to be connected to our human nature. You see, when many, if not most, people buy a stock and they see it gain, say 50%, they sell it because, as I heard hundreds of times when I was a stock broker, “Hey, you can’t go broke taking a profit!” But the thing is, that stock may end up being the next Microsoft or Apple Computer company, subsequently moving up another 50% or 100% or 1000% or more over time.

On the other side, there’s the typical part time stock investor who buys a stock at $20 only to watch it drop to $10 a share, says to themselves, “I am not going to take a loss on this so I won’t sell it now.” So they hold on and wait. Over time I think you can guess what will happen. Yep, those kind of investors end up with a portfolio full of crummy, terrible, loser stocks. They kept the ones that went down and sold the ones that went up.

A big part of the problem with stocks is anyone can quickly and easily buy or sell with very little effort and that can lead to impulsive decisions. Greed and fear can cause that quick buying and selling of stock reaction–usually not a good idea. However with income producing real estate, impulse buying or selling doesn’t usually happen since it all takes more time and, of course, more effort.

But because of that ‘time and effort’ factor, most people that buy income producing properties buy and hold for the long term and if they’ve done it even half right they are collecting enough income in rents to more than cover their expenses which gives them the great benefit of being able to wait–sometimes for a very long time–until they can sell the property for a sizable gain! That’s why I love real estate.  It is also what primarily got me to leave the stock business and move into the real estate investing business. I do hope if you are not already investing in real estate, you’ll start very soon.

A Case for Diversification

August 28, 2015 by  
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Wow! What a wild stock market we’ve had the last few days. Over a trillion dollars in lost value. Can you imagine having virtually all your asset held in stocks? I was asked the other night at a party, by a person that apparently was hurt pretty badly by this, how much money this huge sell off of stocks cost me. I answered that it had virtually no impact on my assets and or net worth. How is this possible? Well, it’s simple … I own just one small position in one publicly traded stock. Maybe in the long run the market drop will have an effect on real estate property values–that’s where I have almost all my net worth– but I very much doubt it.

Yes, I used to be a stock broker many, many years ago and would buy and sell stock for myself frequently, but I learned the hard way that even very smart people can lose money very quickly in the stock market. Even if you buy great stocks and those companies are making money and doing well, if the overall market takes a big hit like it has done the last few days, your good strong company stock usually goes down with the market. One of the big reasons I moved almost all my assets into improved, rent generating real estate is because I had a least some control over the asset that I owned. You see, with stocks, you not only don’t control the company or the people that are running the company, but you have no control over what the overall stock market is doing.

You may be thinking, “Okay, I agree with all that but putting my money in improved real estate takes a lot of work and effort.” And you would be correct. It does take work but the rewards can be so great and much of the work can be turned over to others. I’ve certainly found that to be true and the huge surprise and benefit to me was that I found people that do a better job finding, fixing and managing the properties than I do, or I should say “did”. I’m a big time delegator now.

At a minimum, I would encourage you and anyone that will listen to not put all your eggs in that one ‘stock basket’. Diversity is the smart thing to do and, yes, even though I own very little stock, I do make sure I diversify my asset by owning different kinds of real estate. I own everything from triple net lease buildings with national company tenants to development of storage units to small retail strip malls and even a bit of raw land. A bit of cash always being set aside is a good idea too.

I encourage you to take time to plan out your asset strategy. Don’t be like the majority of Americans who seem to spend a lot more time planning their vacation that they do planning the financial life!

 

 

Measuring a Country’s Greatness

August 14, 2015 by  
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The subjects of my blogs are mainly about Health and Wealth but this week I’ve just got to say something about the race for the White House.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone that seems more non-presidential than the guy with the bad hair who never talks with any specifics and who acts like a child.  Have you noticed how Mr. Donald Trump loves to call people names and constantly tells people how great he is?

Yes, we all did that when we were kids, but that’s what kids do and most of us grow up and stop doing those kind of juvenile things. He reminds me of Vladimir Putin who also just can’t seem to get over himself and how wonderful he thinks he is. Most of us, as we age, realize that we are not near as important as we once thought we were.

And how about Trump’s big slogan for his campaign: I’m going to make American great again”. I would love to ask Trump a few questions if he would agree to give me a yes or no answer.  The first question would be, “Mr. Trump, do you think America is a good country?” The next question would be, “Do you think America is a VERY good country?” And lastly, “Don’t you think America is a great country?”

Personally, I don’t think America ever stopped being “great”.  In fact, it seems to me that our country gets better every year.  I’ve been to 84 countries in my life and lived a couple years in the Middle East in Ankara and Turkey and a couple years in England and Wales, and from my distant and far observations, it has always been a pretty great country.

Are we perfect? Of course not. Are we the best country in the world?  That is a pretty broad question. Admittedly, we are not the best in everything but we do excel in quite a number of important areas—our firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances, especially in computers and in medical, aerospace, and military equipment.*But just like a normal human being, we need to keep working at it to make us and our country better.

Some people would disagree with me when I say our country gets better every year and might point out the many terrible things they see every day and night on the news.  My response to that is pretty simple.  The news, especially the cable news that runs 24 hours a day, is in the business of making money and they need to fill up those 24 hours and they know they get a much higher viewership when their news stories are sensational.  Watching the news gives us the impression that things are much worse than they really are.

Since 1980, our murder rate has dropped by more than half and our gross domestic product, a primary indicator of economic health, is 6 times what it was. The US is recognized as having the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world and we are second in the world only to Switzerland in quality of life indexes.* So I say to my readers and to Mr. Donald Trump, “America is already great and I am proud to be an American!”

*Statistics and quotes from Nation Master/www.nationmaster.com

After 37 years the same FINANCIAL FORMULA STILL WORKS

April 17, 2015 by  
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I was going through a bunch of old documents, notes, and papers the other day and came across the very first article ever written about me in the local newspaper.  The headline read “So Here’s How to Go About Making that First Million”. That was in the Salt Lake Tribune clear back on January 18, 1978

They quoted me as saying “…the best way to get rich with someone else’s money is through loans–mortgage and real estate loans.”

Now we fast forward 37 years and guess what?, That old method of getting rich, for most people, is still the best and most reliable way to make your first or second or fifth million. I did however get a big kick out of reading my example and some of the numbers of how you make a 100% return on a simple investment, such as a small house.  It was the small numbers that made me smile.  I had been quoted as saying:

“If you have $5,000 to put down on a $50,000 house and you borrow the other $45,000 to purchase the house, you can compound your investment by 100% if that house increases in value by $5,000 over one year”.

Most casual readers would quickly say or think, “Wait a minute, where can you find a house that you can buy for 50k?  They don’t exist anymore.” If you say that, of course you are right about finding a 50k house but that doesn’t mean the same formula used back then won’t work today.

That financial formula for great wealth is still the same today, but you do need to add something–simply a zero to each of the dollar numbers.  It’s the ratios that give you the 100% return on your money.  You are right if you are thinking that 10% increase in value won’t just happen by itself though. That is unless you are really lucky and we have 10% inflation in one year. But don’t count on that. However, you might be able to buy a house at a real bargain price then make cosmetic improvements which costs money and or your time and efforts but that may well increase the value by 10%.  Of course with the additional money you put to fix it, it may reduce your overall return to 50% or 75%.  But still, those kinds of returns will almost certainly make you a million or multi-millions over time.

Go ahead and google “compound table calculator” and see how quickly 50% or 75% returns increases $5,000 dollars into a million dollars! You may be shocked; especially what it turns into in 15 or 20 years.

 

 

 

 

Push Yourself in 2012

December 30, 2011 by  
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As we come upon the end of another year, I’ve been thinking about what I’ve done this past year and what I want to do this next year. And in the process my thoughts turn to what I’m going to be writing to you all. And I find myself hoping that many, if not most of you will go out in 2012 and take big risks, chase your dreams, and really put your all into getting what you want out of life.

You are probably many times more capable, talented, and resourceful than you give yourself credit for. These last few years have been hard with the economy repressed as it is and we’ve seen so many people– friends, family … even ourselves—feeling it in our businesses, the loss of jobs, the difficulty in finding work. But you know, you can make the present and your future what you want it to be regardless of all that. The route to your goals may not always be so fast and direct, but there is always a way.

This year, promise yourself you will take chances, push yourself, and find a way to make significant progress towards, if not attain, the goals you have. You’ll be amazed by what you can do and will feel energized and more alive just for making that great effort and even more so when you see what you can accomplish!

I hope you and yours have the most wonderful and bright New Year.

The Real Costs of Your Investments

July 2, 2010 by  
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How often do investors think about what is involved in their investments besides money? If you’re handing your money over to a stock broker, the time it takes to invest is small but you also take on significant risk. In real estate investing, there’s both money and time involved in getting it into shape to sell or rent. In a small business investment, the common approach is to put in as little money as possible but all your free time. So considering everything, what investment makes the most sense?

The answer lies primarily in the risk level of the investment and how much your time is worth. For instance, investing through a broker takes little time but the pay back is either very uncertain or very small. Small businesses often take years to turn a profit and your time investment, which may seem cheap or free initially, can be very expensive if you consider how much you could have made working more hours or a second job. Just think, if you could have gotten $25/hour working a second job, then that 20 hours a week you spent over 6 months getting the business up and running cost you $12,500 in lost income! How long will it take you to recover that investment through your business?

In real estate, you invest both a significant amount of time and, sometimes, money (see last week’s post and page 184 in my book “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living” on how to get others to fund your investments) but the outcome is far less risky. The added bonus is that real estate will not continue to suck your time the way a small business often does, and the returns will inevitably be greater and more secure than stocks. This is why I really encourage you to look at real estate if financial freedom is a primary goal of yours.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t open that storefront you’ve been dreaming about or support your favorite budding green business with a capital investment—there are many factors beyond time and money to consider when deciding what investment is right for you—but just don’t pour your all your time and money into something that is not going to help you reach your financial goals in the near future. Keep an eye on the big picture. Because after you make your first million in real estate, you can pay someone to do all the hard work to get that business off the ground or invest in whatever you like. That’s the beauty of financial freedom.

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