Thursday, December 30, 2010

Where'd Everybody Go?

So 2011 is around the corner. It's been almost 7 years since I started this blog and investing in real estate. Back in the first couple of years of this blog, the real estate bubble had yet to burst and people everywhere were getting into flipping properties. There were a regular group of people that used to blog on their own and leave comments on this blog. I got to thinking about what happened to those people and what they might be doing today. I went back through some of my earliest posts, found the people who used to comment a lot and tried to see if I could find them today. Truthfully, I didn't search too hard. I'm not looking to actually contact these people or anything. I was just curious to see if they were still blogging and still in real estate investing. It's possible these people are still doing that, but using different names or blogs, but it seems most have moved on.

Trish#1 - Trish ran the blog Building An Empire, which is no longer around. She lived in Oklahoma and was purchasing and rehabbing properties she bought at foreclosure auctions. I actually bought a house from her, which didn't turn out too well. (In fact, it was the only investment property I lost money on - which was entirely my fault.) Last I heard of her, sometime back in 2007, she had started working for a property management company.

Seattle Eric - Used to run the blog seattlerei.blogspot.com, which is now defunct. I'm not sure if I'm remembering correctly, but he might have left real estate investing to become a Realtor. I know one of the bloggers I followed in the Seattle area went that route.

BGInvestor - a fellow RE investor in Arizona. He ran the blog The Life And Times Of An Arizona Investor, which is still up, but hasn't been updated since 2006. His last entry said he was starting a new blog with a focus on real estate investing education, but that blog doesn't exist anymore.

Erin Morgan - aka PRLinkBiz. I met her in person back in 2006 at a local get together of people who were active on Robert Kiyosaki's RichDad.com forums. She obtained some infamy from her involvement with Casey Serin, a clueless wanna-be real estate investor. She was also part of the No Limit Ladies website, whose last entry is from March, 2009. This site was run by a couple of different women though, and I think Erin stopped posting there years earlier.

Savvy Saver - although not a real estate investor, she did follow my blog and commented frequently. She runs an eponymous blog that is still operating and focuses on personal finance.

Kenric - another Arizona resident I met at the previously mentioned Rich Dad get together. He has shifted his focus from real estate investing to creating and running internet businesses. He still actively posts on his blog Live Learn Invest.

Les - my partner in real estate investing, whom I also met at the Rich Dad meeting, although we had corresponded prior to that. He lives in Northern California. He never had a blog and I found him mainly though his postings on the discussion forums at richdad.com. I haven't been there in ages, so I don't know if he's still active there or not. He is still very much active in real estate investing, mainly as a hard money lender, although he and his wife do buy and rehab foreclosures now and then. He was a mortgage broker prior to becoming a full time real estate investor, so he was involved in real estate before the bubble started.

Steve - yet another local real estate investor. He invests in apartment complexes and it's through him that I found the apartment complex in Houston that we are both invested in. He never blogged, but did post somewhat frequently on the Rich Dad forums. Again, I don't know if he still does. He is still active in real estate investing.

So in looking back, it seems many people who got involved in real estate back in the bubble have now left. Not surprising. If people were looking for a quick or easy buck, they're not going to stick around when things head south. But I think the people that took Kiyosaki's point to heart - that your money needs to work for you and not the other way around - are still going strong. It's true, my focus has shifted more from rehabbing properties to doing more hard money lending, but I still believe in the security of real estate and its power to generate passive income. Kenric took what he learned at the get together (where someone made a presentation on internet businesses) to set up businesses that run 24 hours a day with or without him (although he has shifted lately from using drop shippers to fulfilling and shipping orders himself, so he is moving away from the truly passive concept). He took to heart another of Kiyosaki's principles - build businesses that can be sold.

I wonder if any of those people that have disappeared still take to heart the concept of passive income or if they gave it up when they gave up real estate and went back to living paycheck to paycheck? I personally no longer follow Kiyosaki or read his books - I feel he's simply repeating the same thing over and over now. I do credit him for opening my eyes to the power of passive income and for changing how I look at spending my money.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Loan Closing And Apartment Financials Improving

The property behind hard money #14 has been sold and is supposed to close escrow this week. If it does, this will have been a 6 month loan, which is pretty good. (The mortgage note was for a one year term.) The property was rehabbed in two months and was on the market for four months.

Things are turning around slowly at the Houston apartment complex too. Occupancy for November was 90% and we saw a decline of about $3,000 in rent concessions as well. Revenue is up about $3,000 from the late summer months and $20,000 higher than March, which was the lowest month this year. Expenses dropped due to some management-negotiated utility rebates from overbilling. Management also waived some management fees - not sure why. Cash flow was about negative $1,600, the lowest it's been since February. Things definitely seem to be turning around. Rent concessions, while dropping, are still higher than I'd like to see. They are roughly four times higher than they were in January of this year and three times over the budgeted amount. If we can cut that expense down, the property will easily be back in the black. But that all depends on if the local economy can support that.

In looking at the income statement in more detail, I just noticed not only did management waive their fee in November, but they did in October as well. That's a $4,800 a month savings for the last two months. Obviously, that won't continue. And I believe our mortgage switches from interest-only to interest and principle soon after the first of the year. So we're not out of the woods yet, but we are on the right track.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Man Stands On Principles, Dares Bank To Foreclose, And Wins

I wrote last month about a guy who was willing to let his bank foreclosure on his house over $25 in fees the bank erroneously charged him and refused to reverse. Turns out the bank blinked and has agreed to the man's (entirely reasonable) demands and has canceled the foreclosure four days before the auction. Nice to see someone at the bank has some common sense.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

House Now On The Market

Last time, I mentioned the property behind hard money loan #15 was about two weeks away from going on the market. I'm pleased to say it is now on the market! Below are some photos.






This is a bit interesting. The house isn't fully staged, just a few pieces of artwork on the walls and some plants. But I still think it makes the property show better than being completely empty.

The property is listed for $400,000. My partner's wife is the owner of this one and she bought it for around $299,000. When it was bought, our estimates of comps ranged from $375,000 (computer generated) to $400,000 (opinions of two real estate professionals who have lived in the area most of their lives). Our mortgage is for $220,000 or 74% LTV based on the purchase price. With the holidays approaching, I don't expect any movement on this until after the first of the year, but who knows.