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Good time to become a real estate mogul?

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  • Good time to become a real estate mogul?

    Good time to become a real estate mogul?
    Financial editor Jean Chatzky on using the bleak market to your advantage

    TODAYShow.com contributor
    updated 5:39 p.m. ET Dec. 12, 2007

    Jean Chatzky
    TODAY Financial Editor

    This past week, Robert Kiyosaki, author of "Rich Dad, Poor Dad," one of the best-selling personal finance books of all time, dropped by my radio show to talk real estate.

    Yes the waters are rocky, the mortgages may be harder to come by, but particularly if you're interested in buying rental properties with an eye toward becoming a bit of a mogul yourself, Kiyosaki says now is as good a time as any.
    The stats seem to bear him out. Home prices fell 1.7 percent in the third quarter of this year, according to the S&P Case/Shiller Home Price Index and many experts, including Kiyosaki, are predicting a continued decline. He says to people like him and Donald Trump, his co-author on a volume called "Why We Want You To Be Rich," (Rich Press) the fact that prices are going to plummet even further is good news: It makes buying even more lucrative.

    But investing in rental properties isn't a decision to be taken lightly. It requires a whole lot of know-how and (preferably) a shining credit report. You also need a firm understanding of exactly what you're signing up for, which means knowing your local market inside and out.
    Here's how you can turn today's bleak market to your advantage:

    Get your credit in shape
    True, you can probably purchase a property with a middle of the road credit score. But do you want to? A low credit score means a high interest rate on your mortgage, and that increased expense is going to cut into your overhead pretty dramatically.

    So, take the next 12 months to improve your credit score before diving in. Pay your bills on time, turn down offers of new credit and reduce your outstanding balances. Based on Kiyosaki's prediction, you'll still have time to get in while the getting is good.

    Study up
    Jumping in without knowing the basics is the wrong move. Before you sign on any dotted lines, take the time to read a few solid (and up-to-date) books on real-estate investing. Once you feel you have a pretty good — albeit broad — handle on the subject, you can start scoping out the market where you plan to buy.

    "You need to go out and see the area for yourself. Look at a lot of properties, get a handle on what they are renting for, and how much insurance and property taxes will be so you don't have any surprises," advises Thomas Lucier, an investor in Florida and author of "The No-Nonsense Real Estate Investor's Kit," (Wiley, 2006). Do it in person, but also check out the classified sections of your local newspapers to get a feel for the rents.

    Spot a good investment
    Location is key, obviously, and a good rule of thumb is to not buy rental property in an area where you yourself wouldn't be willing to live. That means looking at crime rates, as well as walking the neighborhood during the day and after dark. It also means looking at things like the age of the property (an older building can mean more repairs), and enlist the help of a good inspector who will spot any structural problems. If your inspector finds something, you can then weigh your options — often, these kinds of issues can be used as bargaining chips to lower the price, but if they're severe, you may want to just move on.

    Start small
    Lucier suggests a duplex that will allow you the ability to live in one side and rent out the other. Even Kiyosaki, who says he now only buys apartment buildings with more than 300 units, started with a small condo on the island of Maui, Hawaii. "I've ridden the market up and down, and that's how I got smart," he explains. As you gain experience, you can slowly begin to expand your portfolio.

    Focus on cash flow
    The key to making money off of your investment properties is thinking in terms of cash flow rather than capital gains, says Kiyosaki.

    "When I buy a piece of real estate, my first question is what's my cash flow? What's my rental income from the property? A property is only worth its rent." That means adding up your mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance costs and maintenance, and subtracting that figure from what you can reasonably charge for rent. The amount that's left? It's your salary. Increase it by becoming a do-it-yourselfer, if you have the time and skill to fix a leaky faucet.

    "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx

  • #2
    Donald Trump involved? Yikes, that man seems to stuff up everything he touches!


    • #3
      The last bit by Kiyosaki is what people forget. Heaps of people are out there buying negatively geared property. It's all done assuming captial gains will occur and be worth more than the shortfall.

      Squadly dinky do!


      • #4
        Originally posted by muppet View Post
        Even Kiyosaki, who says he now only buys apartment buildings with more than 300 units, . [/B]

        Bugger!...What a position to be in!