Addicted to Real Estate – Why I Can’t Stop and Why You Should Start

The All-Money-Down Technique

So how does the all-money-down technique work by purchasing a home with cash? First of all, let me repeat that I really didn’t have any cash, but I had a significant amount of equity from Terry’s home and several homes that I owned put together to give me a substantial cash down payment. Banks and mortgage companies alike will accept money from a home-equity line of credit as cash to purchase a home. At least they did in 1997 under the financial guidelines of the day. What you must remember about mortgages and lending is that the guidelines change constantly, so this technique I used in 1997 may or may not be able to be used in the future. Whether it is or isn’t able to be used again doesn’t really matter to me as I believe that there will always be a way to buy real estate with limited money down sooner or later. There will always be a technique to acquire real estate but exactly how that will be done in the future I’m not completely sure.

I began purchasing homes in the Mayfair section of Philadelphia with the prices in the $30,000 to $40,000 per home price range. I would purchase a home with three bedrooms and one bathroom on the second floor with a kitchen, dining room, and living room on the first floor and a basement. What we call a row home in Philadelphia would consist of a porch out front and a backyard the width of the home. Most row homes in Philadelphia are less than twenty-two feet wide. For those of you who are not from Philadelphia and can’t picture what a Philadelphia row home looks like, I suggest you watch the movie Rocky. Twenty-two homes on each side of every block will really test your ability to be a neighbor. Things that will usually cause an argument with your Philadelphia neighbors often stem from parking, noise your children make, where you leave your trash cans, parties, and the appearance of your home.

In 1998 my girlfriend and I moved in together and to the suburbs of Philadelphia called Warminster. After living on a street in Tacony, much like Rocky did, I really looked forward to having space between my home and my next-door neighbor. I told Terry not to even think about talking with the people who lived next door to us. I told her if one of them comes over with a fruitcake I am going to take it and punt it like a football right into their backyard. I believe I was suffering from Philadelphia row home syndrome. My new neighbors in Warminster turned out to be wonderful people, but it took me eighteen months before I was willing to learn that.

So you just bought your row home for $35,000 in Mayfair, and after $2000 in closing costs and $5000 in repair costs, you find yourself a good tenant who wants to rent the home. After renting the home with a positive cash flow of $200 a month, you now have an outstanding debt of $42,000 on your home equity line of credit that will have to be paid off. When purchasing the home, I did not get a mortgage as I just purchased a home for cash as it is said in the business. All monies I spent on this house were spent from the home-equity line of credit.

The move now is to pay off your home-equity line of credit so you can go do it again. We now go to a bank with your fixed-up property and tell the mortgage department that you want to do a cash-out refinancing of your real estate investment. It helps to explain that the neighborhood you purchase your property in should have a wider range of pricing as the neighborhood of Mayfair did in the mid-90s. The pricing of homes in Mayfair is quite unusual as you would see a $3000 difference in home values from one block to the next. This was important when doing a cash-out refinancing because it’s pretty easy for the bank to see that I just bought my property for $35,000 regardless of the fact that I did many repairs. I could justify the fact that I’ve spent more money on my home to fix it up, and by putting a tenant in, it was now a profitable piece of real estate from an investment standpoint.

If I was lucky like I was many times over doing this system of purchasing homes in Mayfair and the appraiser would use homes a block or two away and come back with an appraisal of $45,000. Back then there were programs allowing an investor to purchase a home for 10 percent down or left in as equity doing a 90 percent cash out refinance giving me back roughly $40,500. Utilizing this technique allowed me to get back most of the money I put down on the property. I basically paid just $1,500 down for this new home. Why did the mortgage companies and the appraisers keep giving me the numbers I wanted? I assume because they wanted the business. I would only tell the bank I need this to come in at $45,000 or I am just keeping it financed as is. They always seemed to give me what I wanted within reason.

This whole process took three to four months during which time I may have saved a few thousand dollars. Between the money I saved from my job and my investments and cash out refinancing, I had replenished most or all of my funds from my home-equity line of credit that was now almost back to zero to begin the process again. And that is exactly what I intended to do. I used this system to purchase four to six homes a year utilizing the same money to purchase home after home after home over and over again. In reality, the technique is a no-money down or little money down technique. At the time maybe I had $60,000 in available funds to use to buy homes off of my HELOC, so I would buy a home and then replenish the money. It was a terrific technique that was legal, and I could see my dream of being a real estate investor full-time coming to an eventual reality even though I wasn’t there yet.

During the years from 1995 to 2002, the real estate market in Philadelphia made gradual increases of maybe 6 percent as each year went on. I began to track my net worth that was 100 percent equity, meaning I had no other forms of investments to look at when calculating my net worth. Generally speaking, the first five years of my real estate career did not go well because of the bad decisions I made purchasing buildings and the decline in the market. Furthermore, my lack of knowledge and experience in repairs made it a rough. The second five years of my real estate career that I just finished explaining didn’t make much money either. I supported myself primarily through my career as a salesman, but I could definitely see the writing on the wall that down the road real estate was going to be my full-time gig.

Realty Professionals of America

I own an office building that has a real estate company as a tenant called Realty Professionals of America. The company has a terrific plan where a new agent receives 75 percent of the commission and the broker gets only 25 percent. If you don’t know it, this is a pretty good deal, especially for a new real estate agent. The company also offers a 5 percent sponsorship fee to the agent who sponsors them on every deal they do. If you bring an individual who is a realtor in to the company that you have sponsored, the broker will pay you a 5 percent sponsorship out of the broker’s end so that the new realtor you sponsored can still earn 75 percent commissions. In addition to the above, Realty Professionals of America offers to increase the realtor’s commission by 5 percent after achieving cumulative commission benchmarks, up to a maximum of 90 percent. Once a commission benchmark is reached, an agent’s commission rate is only decreased if commissions in the following year do not reach a lower baseline amount. I currently keep 85 percent of all my deals’ commissions; plus I receive sponsorship checks of 5 percent from the commissions that the agents I sponsored earn. If you’d like to learn more about being sponsored into Realty Professionals of America’s wonderful plan, please call me directly at 267-988-2000.

Getting My Real Estate License

One of the things that I did in the summer of 2005 after leaving my full-time job was to make plans to get my real estate license. Getting my real estate license was something I always wanted to do but never seemed to have the time to do it. I’m sure you’ve heard that excuse a thousand times. People always say that they’re going to do something soon as they find the time to do it, but they never seem to find the time, do they? I try not to let myself make excuses for anything. So I’ve made up my mind before I ever left my full-time job that one of the first things I would do was to get my real estate license. I enrolled in a school called the American Real Estate Institute for a two-week full-time program to obtain my license to sell real estate in the state of Pennsylvania. Two terrific guys with a world of experience taught the class, and I enjoyed the time I spent there. Immediately after completing the course at the American Real Estate Institute, I booked the next available day offered by the state to take the state exam. My teachers’ advice to take the exam immediately after the class turned out to be an excellent suggestion. I passed the exam with flying colors and have used my license many times since to buy real estate and reduce the expenses. If you are going to be a full-time real estate investor or a commercial real estate investor, then you almost have to get a license. While I know a few people who don’t believe this, I’m convinced it’s the only way.

I worked on one deal at $3 million where the commission to the buyer’s real estate agent was $75,000. By the time my broker took a share, I walked with $63,000 commission on that deal alone. With the average cost per year of being a realtor running about $1200 per year, this one deal alone would’ve paid for my real estate license for fifty-three years. Not to mention all the other fringe benefits like having access to the multiple listing service offered too many realtors in this country. While there are other ways to get access to the multiple listing services or another program similar to it, a real estate license is a great way to go.

Some of the negatives I hear over and over again about having your real estate license is the fact that you have to disclose that you are realtor when buying a home if you’re representing yourself. Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see this as a negative at all. If you’re skilled in the art of negotiation, it’s just another hurdle that you have to deal with. I suppose you could end up in a lawsuit where a court of law could assume because you are realtor you should know all these things. I don’t spend my life worrying about the million ways I can be sued any more than I worry about getting hit by a car every time I cross the street.

The Addict
From his first investment property over 20 years ago to his relentless search for the next great deal every day, Falcone is a non-stop real estate investment machine!

Get Addicted
Sometimes addiction is a very good thing. In this book Phil Falcone, the ultimate real estate addict, will show you how to achieve amazing success as a real estate investor:

• Delve into the details of actual deals he negotiated and learn why his methods were so effective
• Discover why his residential to commercial real estate strategy will create ultimate wealth
• Learn how he used apparent liabilities (OCD, insomnia, and workaholic behavior) to help him achieve his goals
• Explore why he can’t stop investing in real estate, and how you can start controlling your own financial destiny through real estate

Frank, funny and informative, Addicted to Real Estate will inspire any investor to achieve higher levels of drive and success in the rewarding world of real estate.

The L Steps – 6 Steps of Real Estate Investing

Real estate investing in Miami real estate is now becoming popular again as there are many properties in foreclosure, short sale, bank reo’s, and government foreclosures. With such an overwhelming inventory of homes available for sale a real estate investor must be able to determine which one to purchase. Investors must follow six steps in order to learn, understand and achieve Miami real estate investment success.

These are the six L steps to Miami real estate investing:

1. Location – Location, location, location is still the key of buying Miami real estate. Buying Miami real estate just because the price is low in a declining area is big mistake that should be avoided. Look for homes in an excellent location like, good schools, economic stable and growing neighborhoods, near shopping centers and malls, near bus stops and metro rails, near hospitals and restaurants. Sometimes it is better to pay a little more for a property in a good location than getting a bargain in a place where it is very hard to sell or rent the asset. Location is often overlooked in purchasing real estate as many investor think they can overcome a bad location if the price is low enough. Out of two homes that are exactly the same, the one in the best location will command a much higher sales price and rental income. Location is the number consideration when purchasing Miami South Florida real estate.

2. Long Term – Real estate investing is a long term proposition. Don’t think you are going to be a millionaire over night. It takes years of hard work and dedication in order to succeed. Hold any property at least one year before selling it. Capital gain taxes will be greatly reduced. Consider renting the property for at two or three years. The rental income generated will help you to properly repair and renovate the property. Many investors purchased properties in the middle of real estate boom with no money down and no equity. These investors were thinking of flipping the homes fast and make a killing in the process. Many homes now in foreclosure are due to investors that were caught in the middle and now realize that real estate investing is very hard to time. Long term Miami real estate investing is the secret to a successful real estate career.

3. Lease Option – Never rent a property with a lease option to buy. Either sell or rent it straight out. A lease option usually is a disaster for both buyers and sellers. The tenant will demand a large discount of the rent to go towards the down payment and closing costs. The problem is that tenant will not buy the property at the end of the lease and the landlord/seller will have wasted a lot of money in rebates given to the tenant/buyer. Demand a 20% or 30% deposit from the tenant/buyer and a clause in the contract that if they default on the purchase they will lose the deposit. This technique will force the tenant/buyer to purchase the property or lose the deposit. The risk of losing the deposit will eliminate the tenant from taking advantage of the landlord by walking out of the contract after receiving a monthly rental discount.

4. Local – Buy real estate close to where you live. Don’t buy real estate in another state or in another country. Keep real estate investing local. Buy in your own county and in your city. The more you know about the area where you are buying the better the decision will be. The investor should always be close to the investment property. The Miami real estate investor should inspect the property often to determine any repair, roof and other problems. The landlord must inspect the property every month when collecting the rent. Check for the number of tenants actually living in the property, check for damages and destruction of the property and overall condition of the place. The investor/landlord will not be able to inspect and determine the condition of the property if it is located far away. Keeping real estate local is an essential step in real estate investing.

5. Leverage – Most real estate books and seminars tell you to use other people’s money when purchasing real estate. This technique is not the best and buyers should try to buy the property in cash if at all possible. Buying a house in cash will help you get a better deal and allow you to negotiate from a position of strength. A cash buyer will always have the upper hand in negotiating with banks, property owners, and other sellers. Cash buyers will not suffer and go into foreclosure if the market turns and they are unable to sell or rent the house right away. Like Dave Ramsey always says “cash is king and debt is dumb”. Buying an investment property in cash is an excellent way to avoid Miami real estate investment mistakes.

6. Learn – Research the property and learn everything about it before you buy. A mistake in Miami real estate investing can be very costly. Usually you make your money when you buy not when you sell. Buying the property at the wrong price the wrong place and at the wrong time could be detrimental. One mistake could wipe you out and put you out of business before you start. Ask questions to the experts, real estate agents, appraisers, mortgage brokers, and other real estate investors. Learn, research, educate yourself in all aspects of real estate investing before you purchase the asset.

It is definitely a buyers market in Miami-Dade County. Miami real estate investors have more choices than ever before when it comes to real estate investing. Investors must follow the L steps, the 6 steps real estate investor guide to successful real estate investing in order to achieve their investment goals in the Miami real estate market.

A Guide to Investments in Indian Real Estate

Real estate has traditionally been an avenue for considerable investment per se and investment opportunity for High Net-worth Individuals, Financial institutions as well as individuals looking at viable alternatives for investing money among stocks, bullion, property and other avenues.

Money invested in property for its income and capital growth provides stable and predictable income returns, similar to that of bonds offering both a regular return on investment, if property is rented as well as possibility of capital appreciation. Like all other investment options, real estate investment also has certain risks attached to it, which is quite different from other investments. The available investment opportunities can broadly be categorized into residential, commercial office space and retail sectors.

Investment scenario in real estate

Any investor before considering real estate investments should consider the risk involved in it. This investment option demands a high entry price, suffers from lack of liquidity and an uncertain gestation period. To being illiquid, one cannot sell some units of his property (as one could have done by selling some units of equities, debts or even mutual funds) in case of urgent need of funds.

The maturity period of property investment is uncertain. Investor also has to check the clear property title, especially for the investments in India. The industry experts in this regard claim that property investment should be done by persons who have deeper pockets and longer-term view of their investments. From a long-term financial returns perspective, it is advisable to invest in higher-grade commercial properties.

The returns from property market are comparable to that of certain equities and index funds in longer term. Any investor looking for balancing his portfolio can now look at the real estate sector as a secure means of investment with a certain degree of volatility and risk. A right tenant, location, segmental categories of the Indian property market and individual risk preferences will hence forth prove to be key indicators in achieving the target yields from investments.

The proposed introduction of REMF (Real Estate Mutual Funds) and REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) will boost these real estate investments from the small investors’ point of view. This will also allow small investors to enter the real estate market with contribution as less as INR 10,000.

There is also a demand and need from different market players of the property segment to gradually relax certain norms for FDI in this sector. These foreign investments would then mean higher standards of quality infrastructure and hence would change the entire market scenario in terms of competition and professionalism of market players.

Overall, real estate is expected to offer a good investment alternative to stocks and bonds over the coming years. This attractiveness of real estate investment would be further enhanced on account of favourable inflation and low interest rate regime.

Looking forward, it is possible that with the progress towards the possible opening up of the real estate mutual funds industry and the participation of financial institutions into property investment business, it will pave the way for more organized investment real estate in India, which would be an apt way for investors to get an alternative to invest in property portfolios at marginal level.

Investor’s Profile

The two most active investor segments are High Net Worth Individuals (HNIs) and Financial Institutions. While the institutions traditionally show a preference to commercial investment, the high net worth individuals show interest in investing in residential as well as commercial properties.

Apart from these, is the third category of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs). There is a clear bias towards investing in residential properties than commercial properties by the NRIs, the fact could be reasoned as emotional attachment and future security sought by the NRIs. As the necessary formalities and documentation for purchasing immovable properties other than agricultural and plantation properties are quite simple and the rental income is freely repatriable outside India, NRIs have increased their role as investors in real estate

Foreign direct investments (FDIs) in real estate form a small portion of the total investments as there are restrictions such as a minimum lock in period of three years, a minimum size of property to be developed and conditional exit. Besides the conditions, the foreign investor will have to deal with a number of government departments and interpret many complex laws/bylaws.

The concept of Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) is on the verge of introduction in India. But like most other novel financial instruments, there are going to be problems for this new concept to be accepted.

Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) would be structured as a company dedicated to owning and, in most cases, operating income-producing real estate, such as apartments, shopping centres, offices and warehouses. A REIT is a company that buys, develops, manages and sells real estate assets and allows participants to invest in a professionally managed portfolio of properties.

Some REITs also are engaged in financing real estate. REITs are pass-through entities or companies that are able to distribute the majority of income cash flows to investors, without taxation, at the corporate level. The main purpose of REITs is to pass the profits to the investors in as intact manner as possible. Hence initially, the REIT’s business activities would generally be restricted to generation of property rental income.

The role of the investor is instrumental in scenarios where the interest of the seller and the buyer do not match. For example, if the seller is keen to sell the property and the identified occupier intends to lease the property, between them, the deal will never be fructified; however, an investor can have competitive yields by buying the property and leasing it out to the occupier.

Rationale for real estate investment schemes

The activity of real estate includes a wide range of activities such as development and construction of townships, housing and commercial properties, maintenance of existing properties etc.

The construction sector is one the highest employment sector of the economy and directly or indirectly affects the fortunes of many other sectors. It provides employment to a large work force including a substantial proportion of unskilled labor. However for many reasons this sector does not have smooth access to institutional finance. This is perceived as one of the reasons for the sector not performing to its potential.

By channeling small savings into property, investments would greatly increase access to organized institutional finance. Improved activity in the property sector also improves the revenue flows to the State exchequer through-increased sales-tax, octroi and other collections.

Real estate is an important asset class, which is under conventional circumstances not a viable route for investors in India at present, except by means of direct ownership of properties. For many investors the time is ripe for introducing product to enable diversification by allocating some part of their investment portfolio to real estate investment products. This can be effectively achieved through real estate funds.

Property investment products provide opportunity for capital gains as well as regular periodic incomes. The capital gains may arise from properties developed for sale to actual users or direct investors and the income stream arises out of rentals, income from deposits and service charges for property maintenance.

Advantages of investment in real estate

The following are the advantages for investing in Real Estate Investment Schemes

• As an asset class, property is distinct from the other investment avenues available to a small as well as large investor. Investment in property has its own methodology, advantages, and risk factors that are unlike those for conventional investments. A completely different set of factors, including capital formation, economic performance and supply considerations, influence the realty market, leading to a low correlation in price behaviour vis-à-vis other asset classes.

• Historically, over a longer term, real estate provides returns that are comparable with returns on equities. However, the volatility in prices of realty is lower than equities leading to a better risk management to return trade-off for the investment.

• Real estate returns also show a high correlation with inflation. Therefore, real estate investments made over long periods of time provide an inflation hedge and yield real returns

Risks of investment in real estate

The risks involved in investing in real estate are primarily to do with future rental depreciation or general property market risk, liquidity, tenancy risk and property depreciation. The fundamental factors affecting the value of a specific property are:

Location – The location of a building is crucially important and a significant factor in determining its market value. A property investment is likely to be held for several years and the attractiveness of a given location may change over the holding period, for the better or worse. For example, part of a city may be undergoing regeneration, in which case the perception of the location is likely to improve. In contrast, a major new shopping center development may reduce the appeal of existing peaceful, residential properties.

Physical Characteristics – The type and utility of the building will affect its value, i.e. an office or a shop. By utility is meant the benefits an occupier gets from utilizing space within the building. The risk factor is depreciation. All buildings suffer wear and tear but advances in building technology or the requirements of tenants may also render buildings less attractive over time. For example, the need for large magnitude of under-floor cabling in modern city offices has changed the specifications of the required buildings’ space. Also, a building which is designed as an office block may not be usable as a Cineplex, though Cineplex may serve better returns than office space.

Tenant Credit Risk – The value of a building is a function of the rental income that you can expect to receive from owning it. If the tenant defaults then the owner loses the rental income. However, it is not just the risk of outright default that matters. If the credit quality of the tenant were to deteriorate materially during the period of ownership then the sale value will likely be worse than it otherwise would have been.

Lease Length – The length of the leases is also an important consideration. If a building is let to a good quality tenant for a long period then the rental income is assured even if market conditions for property are volatile. This is one of the attractive features of property investment. Because the length of lease is a significant feature, it is important at the time of purchase to consider the length of lease at the point in time when the property is likely to be re-occupied. Many leases incorporate break options, and it is a standard market practice to assume that the lease will terminate at the break point.

Liquidity – All property investment is relatively illiquid to most bonds and equities. Property is slow to transact in normal market conditions and hence illiquid. In poor market conditions it will take even longer to find a buyer. There is a high cost of error in property investments. Thus, while a wrong stock investment can be sold immediately, undoing a wrong real estate investment may be tedious and distress process.

Tax Implications – Apart from income tax which is to be paid on rental income and capital gains, there are two more levies which have to be paid by the investor i.e. property tax and stamp duty. The stamp duty and property tax differ from state to state and can impact the investment returns ones expected from a property.

High Cost Of Investment – Real Estate values are high compared to other forms of investment. This nature of real estate investment puts it out of reach of the common masses. On the other hand, stocks and bonds can now be bought in quantities as small as-one share, thus enabling diversification of the portfolio despite lower outlays. Borrowing for investment in real estate increases the risks further.

Risk Of Single Property – Purchasing a single – property exposes the investor to specific risks associated with the property and does not provide any benefits of diversification. Thus, if the property prices fall, the investor is exposed to a high degree of risk.

Distress Sales – Illiquidity of the real estate market also brings in the risk of lower returns or losses in the event of an urgent need to divest. Distress sales are common in the real estate market and lead to returns that are much lower than the fair value of the property.

Legal Issues – While stock exchanges guarantee, to a certain extent, the legitimacy of a trade in equities or bonds and thus protect against bad delivery or fake and forged shares, no similar safety net is available in the property market. It is also difficult to check the title of a property and requires time, money and expertise.

Overall keeping an eye on market trends can reduce most of these risks. For instance, investing in properties where the rentals are at market rates, also, investing in assets that come with high-credit tenants and looking for lease lock-ins to reuse tenancy risk are simple guidelines to follow.

Future Outlook

The real estate market is witnessing a heightened activity from year 2000 both in terms of magnitude of space being developed as well as rational increase in price. Easy availability of housing loans at much lesser rates has encouraged people who are small investors to buy their own house, which may well be their second home too.

High net worth individuals have also demonstrated greater zeal in investing in residential real estate with an intention of reaping capital appreciation and simultaneously securing regular returns.

In the wake of strong economic growth, real estate market should continue to gain momentum resulting in falling vacancies in CBD areas and more development in suburbs; it is unlikely that commercial property prices will rise or fall significantly, beyond rational reasoning.

As the stamp duty on leave and license agreements has been further reduced, it should further attract to deal in this manner encouraging the investors and the occupiers.

With current budget focusing on infrastructure, it will attract quality tenants and add to market growth. Heighten retail activity will give upward push for space requirement.

Further, the proposed introduction of REMF (Real Estate Mutual Funds) and REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) will boost these real estate investments from the small investors’ point of view. These foreign investments would then mean higher standards of quality infrastructure and hence would change the entire market scenario in terms of competition and professionalism of market players.

Looking forward, it is possible that with evident steps of the possible opening up of the REMF industry and the participation of financial institutions into property investment business, it will pave the way for more organized investment in real estate in India, which would be an apt way for retail investors to get an alternative to invest in property portfolios at all levels. Overall, real estate is expected to offer a good investment alternative to stocks and bonds over the coming years.