I've been asked on more than one occasion, how and why I made the switch from Law to Real Estate. It actually started my first semester in Law School. As I sat through Contracts, Torts and Civil Procedure - I realized that I may not be as in love with law as I thought I was. I was pretty sure that I didn't want to spend the rest of my career marking up contracts. With all of the money that I was spending to go back to school, I knew that I better come out of school with something that I could use, so, I decided to enroll in the joint JD/MBA program.
And there you have it. In one of my first MBA classes, the name of which I have long forgotten, but the lesson I have never forgotten, the Professor discussed a number of well-known, wealthy American families with fortunes in restaurants, sports teams, etc. The professor would throw out a name and then ask the class how the family made money. "The Lakers" we all yelled out or "McDonalds". The Professor than explained to us that these families had actually made their family fortunes in Real Estate. With the fortunes these families made in Real Estate, they went on to invest and create larger fortunes in other areas. I had stars in my eyes.
So, before I even graduated, I got my Real Estate license so that I could invest in Real Estate. I joined the Remax Suburban Team and off I went to make my fortune. I bought my first property for $40,000 and had the owner carry a second as part of the down payment. Unfortunately, I had negotiated a much better deal than mortgage company would allow, after all, they wanted me to share in the risk as well. I still have that home and it's has appreciated wonderfully, but also taught many lessons in real estate investment. And though real estate ownership is challenging, I still enjoy it and constantly plan for my next acquisition.
And so over the next few years, while I practiced law (and never quite seemed to get it right), I continued investing in Real Estate. I must say, it has never been easy. Tenants can be hard to deal with and properties always require upkeep (which always costs 50% more than expected) and yet I still love it. I figure if it was easy, everyone would do it. And so, I continue to renovate and buy and renovate and plan to buy in the hope that at retirement I will have a wonderful portfolio of holdings and more importantly something to leave behind for my children to give them a leg up in the world.
And so, when my husband was offered a job in Houston, I agreed to come on one condition. No more practicing law. I wanted to spend my time doing what I enjoy. And now I help others buy, sell and rent Real Estate. I am building up a clientele of buyer and sellers for personal homes, and I am also working with investors on buying properties as investments. After all, this is quickly becoming a landlord's market.
I believe that Real Estate is a great investment for so many reasons. It is one of the few investments that allows you to:
•o Buy an appreciating, high value asset for a percentage of its market value (otherwise known as your down-payment) which is typically 5% - 20%;
•o Borrow the balance of your purchase (from the bank in the form of a mortgage) while allowing you up to 30 years to pay them back;
•o Have someone else pays the bank back for you (your tenant who pays you rent, which you use to pay the mortgage every month).
•o Acquire Equity, in two ways:
•· Having your tenant pay down your mortgage. Let's say you borrowed $100,000 and a number of years have gone by and you only owe $76,000 - that gives you $24,000 in equity;
•· Property Appreciation. While you and your tenant have been paying your mortgage down, your property has also been appreciating. Using the scenario above, let's say you bought it for $100,000, and now you only owe $76,000, but now let's say it's increased in value over time and so now it is worth, $136,000. Your $136,000 house only has a mortgage on it of $76,000. You now have $60,000 in equity in your house.
Another great thing about is Real Estate Investment is the monthly passive cash flow which you get when the rates of rent outpace the mortgage payment. You can pretty much count on a wonderful cash flow when your mortgage is paid off and you can keep the payment from your tenant every month (as opposed to passing it through to the mortgage company). But often, rents increase to a point that you are in a positive cash flow situation many years before the actual mortgage is paid off (sometimes it's from inception and sometimes it's later down the line - it often depends on your strategy).
And finally, what conversation on Real Estate would be complete without discussing the huge tax advantages of Real Estate. Many of the expenses are tax-deductable. One should hire a great CPA or Tax Advisor to make sure that write-offs and itemizations are being used correctly.