Saturday, October 31, 2009

End of October

I walked across the street tonight, to get a closer look at a nostalgic Halloween sight and to chat with my neighbor Mary, who had worked with friends the entire afternoon to put it up.
There were no fancy seasonal blow-ups, no gruesome scenes of horror and blood shed, not even a fancy haunted house, with eerie music and lights. Instead, a small string of white lights framed a cozy fire pit and hundreds of carved Jack o'lanterns (only 50, but it looked to be that many) lead trick or treaters up to the fire area. I was irresistibly drawn in, not just to ask about the pumpkins, but because the scene was so homey, so welcoming and so utterly free of commercialism and store bought plastic.
The owner of the home, my neighbor Mary is like that. A move-in from Tennessee, she sports strawberry blond braids that almost touch her knees. She home schools her kids and her corner lot lacks backyard fences, her garden open to what ever nature or the neighborhood happens to bring her way.
She has absolutely the best vegetables around, and willing shares with whom ever passes by. She is the ultimate source of plant wisdom, and knows what and how to grow to get a good yield. Despite the fact that she lives in the city, Mary lives a life of simplicity that to me is enviable.
In this era of scarcity her resourcefulness should be copied. I found out that she got the pumpkins for free from her the throw away bins at the fruits stands on the highway. Except for the gas to pick up the pumpkins and the candles to light them she didn't pay a penny. Her friends and neighbors and their children, spent a fun time this afternoon, carving like crazy. So not only was the wonderful seasonal display almost cost free, so was a warm afternoon of creativity and friendship.
Mary's resourcefulness should be an example to all, that the simplest way to engage in traditions are often the most lasting and memorable. And that money doesn't have to be spent to decorate or entertain.
The picture is of my niece Jessica, carving her first pumpkin by herself.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Is Real Estate Investing Your Ticket to Retirement?

Four Points of Advice for the Beginning Real Estate Investor

Our Hayward Home, First Real Estate Investment and Seed Money for Utah Business

By now you have probably figured out that I am a real estate investor. This was supposed to be the easy way to retire. Learning a lot in the last four years, we done some things right and some things wrong. It has not been an easy way to retire. Truth is, we didn’t really retire, we just changed careers. The real retirement will come when we can make enough money to pay someone else to do what we do. Hopefully real estate investing will allow us to do that.

If you are thinking about real estate investing as a way to retire, what are some basic steps to do just that? A good education is the best way to begin. After spending thousands of dollars on investment education, seminars, colleges, and books, I would advise beginning investors to go online first, but only after you hide your credit card. There is so much information, it can be mind-boggling – so how do you separate the cream from the crap? My advice? Talk to local investors, go to local investment meetings and seek out the help of a local investor. No one knows your market better than a local investor, and that is where you should start. Though some guru’s extol the benefits of online investing, I would not recommend it to the beginner or someone not willing to lose a few, meaning 1000’s of bucks. It is just not the place to start

1.Get your education online for practically free.

Don’t go to seminars, unless they’re local. Just network with local investors, and read, but don’t buy, everything and anything you can find online. Most online gurus these days make their money not from investing in real estate, but by selling real estate education. The basics of that education are available for large sums of money, or none at all. Sign-up like crazy for any guru you can find. Attend their online webinaires, pay for their introductory offers and study them like crazy. And then cancel or opt out. Don’t buy anything from anybody online that costs more than $40.00. Make sure you keep track of anything you sign-up for, and then cancel, so you don’t get sucked into monthly fees etc. Learn all you can about basic real estate. If you want to spend money on education, find a real estate course, for local state agent licensing, and take it. Learn the lingo. For around $350, this will get you a basic introduction to real estate laws and practices. This is their only motive, not to sell a bunch of other classes and websites, and this is cheap, basic education done in about 40 hours. Take the test, but you don’t have to get the license. And then implement. This is sometimes the hardest thing a beginning investor does. Just getting started. But you won’t make any money until you do.

2.Don’t fall prey to the doom gloom predictions, especially regarding real estate investing. The economy has little to do with success in real estate investing. Booming economies don’t make millionaires, bad ones do. There are more bargain properties with less competition in a bad economy. If you know how to do the deals prevalent in a bad economy, you can make lots of money and help people out of bad situations. The thing to remember is that all real estate is local, so find out from your local investors how your market works. And then be able to quickly change investment strategies as the market turns.

3. You don’t need a lot of money to succeed as an investor but you do need some. As in any business you are going to have to spend something. There is money for signs, for Internet service and websites, and dedicated phone lines. By spending a little bit of money for these services, you can make more money just by finding deals for other investors and letting them buy those deals from you. A broker is someone who matches deals with money and real estate investing is a business that allows you to do that. When you become proficient at finding good deals, and successfully closing them, private lenders may let you use their money. Learning as much as you can about real estate investing by reading and discussing real estate with other investors will help you become more confident in the field and a better investor.

4. Have money, but not the time or inclination? Real estate is still a good investment. Maybe you have attended a few local REI meetings. Maybe you have decided that you want to invest in real estate, because you see that logically, it is a good place to put your money. There is still opportunity in the real estate investment field for you to make money, even if you don’t want to look at property, be a landlord, or remodel houses. Real estate is an excellent investment with minimum risk. By learning about real estate you can make wise decisions in what and how to invest, and then allow others to do the investing for you. Real estate loans to other investors are secured by real property. Even if you don’t actually become involved in the possession of the property itself, allowing others to invest in property for you can you get you quick returns on your money, with minimal amounts of cash outlay. As other investors prove their success, your confidence in their ability to give you a quick, safe, return on your money, will let you continuously lend to them and increase your returns.

Given persistence, patience and a never- ending quest for education, real estate investing can help you generate lots of wealth. No matter how bad the economy is, you will have the ability to create income simply by changing strategies. A good knowledge of real estate, learned from formal education and the help of mentors, will help you succeed as a real estate investor.