Why Investing in Real Estate Made Me a Millionaire and Investing in Stocks Didn’t

Martin, our money man and main investing partner, emailed us last night and said simply “I’ve pretty much lost it all”. We’d been shopping for a commercial property to buy to diversify our investments. Martin was once again partner with us on the deal we found, assuming he was comfortable with the numbers.

At least he was planning to before the markets crashed and Martin lost his six figure down payment! Now, sitting on pennies (o.k., not quite, but definitely not enough to make a down payment on a million dollar industrial property), Martin is probably really wondering what so many other people do, “Is real estate a much better investment than stocks?”

My answer is always a resounding “It depends” or “Diversification is best”… but if you change the question and ask me where my money is invested, 90% of my money and my net worth resides in real estate (even excluding my current home).

And yes, I am young – I’m in my early thirties! I am also a millionaire and it’s all thanks to real estate. It’s not to say that stocks won’t make you rich, Warren Buffet is one extreme example of the wealth that can be created through stocks, but I like real estate because:

You Can Kick It! Real estate is tangible. You can drive by a property and tell your friends or family that it is your property. You can also check up on how it’s doing. That is not as easy if you just own shares in a company. There’s nothing to show your friends and family, and most company’s won’t let you sit in on their meetings to see how they are doing!
Leverage: If you have $16,000 to invest (which is what I started with 7 years ago), you can buy $16,000 worth of stocks and bonds. But, if you buy real estate, you can buy a property worth $160,000 (which is exactly what I did). While some stock investors are able to buy on margin (when you only put down a portion of what the stock is worth), this is a sophisticated and high risk move that only experienced stock investors typically make. If your stocks go up in value by 5%, you’ve made $800. But if your property goes up by 5% you’ve made $8,000! This is on the same $16,000 investment. This doesn’t even take into account the other ways you can make money from real estate….which leads me to my third reason I love real estate.
There are three ways to make money from real estate: Appreciation, which we discussed above, rental income, and other people’s money (your renters) paying the mortgage down. Even if your property is decreasing in value, you are still getting paid rent and that rent is paying down the mortgage, and the surplus after expenses are paid is hitting your pocket!
Control: As a shareholder of a company, you have no control over your investment. And, you never really know what’s happening behind closed doors. I don’t need to start naming the corporate disasters of the last decade like Nortel, Enron and WorldCom for you to really understand what I am saying! But with real estate you do have control! If electrical bills are too high you can change the light bulbs to more efficient ones, seal the windows, and take other measures to reduce the costs. If you are losing money, you will know it very quickly! And you will be able to take measures to improve this situation. With shares, what can you do if your shares in Nike drop 15%? You can sell more or you can buy more… that’s it.
Creative ways to make money. A simple stock investor has two ways to make money from stocks… appreciation in their value and dividends. I owned stock with dividends once. The $30 cheque once per year was incredibly rewarding. Because you have control over your property, and there are three different ways to make money from the property, there are plenty of creative techniques to try to make more money from your asset. Some people rent out the garage separate from the house. In the right location, you could sell advertising space or just get price reductions on work done in exchange for some advertising (ever asked a painter what kind of discount you can get on their work if you put up one of their signs on your lawn??), you can add vending machines or laundry facilities, you can change the density of the property (add more units… more units means more rent), or you can change the usage of the property to sell it to someone who can make better use of it (if you are in a commercial area, an office developer might want to pay big bucks for a properly zoned property to develop on). There are dozens of ways to turn a simple house into a money making machine with creativity. The same can’t be said for stocks.
Access to the Equity without selling the asset. In the example of the $16,000 I used to buy my first investment property, I was holding most of that money in mutual funds and GIC’s. When I cashed out, I had to pay tax on the gains! So, while I actually had just under $20,000, after the government took their share, I only had $16,000. With real estate, when you need a chunk of cash, you can refinance a property or take out a secured line of credit against the equity you’ve built up in the property. This means that you get to continue making money from the rental income on that property AND someone else continues to pay down you mortgage AND if property values are appreciating, you will continue to have an appreciating asset AND you get the money you need – without taxes to pay too!
And speaking of taxes… real estate has a lot of tax advantages. Taxes vary by province and state so I won’t get into all of the different advantages… but suffice to say that there are plenty of opportunities to write off expenses against your income, write off the interest on your mortgages, and reduce capital gains taxes.
With so many reasons to love real estate, I haven’t been able to go back to the markets. It’s not to say you should do that too! Real estate isn’t a very liquid investment, and once you own it you still have work to do (unlike stocks). It’s a personal choice, but I know Martin, our money man, is wishing he’d never put his money in the hands of his trusted stock broker. Even in our absolute worst real estate investment we broke even…and in less then 2 months he lost 40% of his money…and worse for him is he lost a significant portion of the down payment he was going to use to buy the commercial property. Maybe some of the stocks will come back, but he’s afraid that a lot of his money is lost forever.

Starting Home Based Businesses

When you want to start a home based business, there are certain things you must consider first. It is not just like any other business started and operated in the normal and likely way. This kind of business is always unique in some areas compared to the normally formed businesses. One of the interesting features of home based businesses is that it is certainly done from home. There is no need for an office in the business center’s or anywhere else as expected with other businesses. There are regulations on how these businesses should clearly be started. Starting a home based business and managing it successfully may perhaps be the question everyone wants answered to.Before you start a home based business, outline your priorities, talents, skills and considerations of what you want to do. If for instance you want to start an online consultancy firm, access you capabilities, your competence, your talents and whether this is an opportunity ready for the market niche. Are you really ready to work from home? Weigh the probable advantages against the disadvantages of working at home. Once you set a decision, make sure you preview and review your options with the help of a specialist or expert. This is important in helping you analyze the benefits of venturing into a particular business. Professional home based businesses should find needs and expectations of customers and actually satisfy them.Start an internet business by transforming your ideas into realities. Many people are ready and eager to launch or start their businesses than run them. In many instances, their joy comes when they launch new products or services in the market, but they constantly fail to make these products known to customers. After setting your ideas and starting the business, it is important to work on it and improve every possible aspect of the business. A lot of research is generally needed for home based businesses to succeed.Start a home based business from a deeper understanding of what the risks are. If it is not worth the investment, energy and the expected profits, then an alternative can definitely be sought. It is important to carry out research before you start any type of business from home. Some businesses require nothing much while others must always reflect on the expected value of the investment or other inputs into the business. Depending on the type of the home based business, your personal attributes must contribute to the business’ success.

Top Home Based Business Ideas – What You Should Consider

The opportunities for building a top home-based business are as endless as your own imagination. While most people tend to immediately think about finding ways to sell things over the internet in order to make money at home, the reality is that there are literally thousands of ways to build a home business to suit you.Do What You LoveSome of the top home-based businesses are those that are set up around the business owner’s passions. Doing something you really enjoy can help keep you motivated and when you’re really having fun it never feels like work.You might love creating craft items, which could lead to designing your own crafty pieces and selling them for profit. You might really love animals, so offering pet-sitting or dog walking services could be ideal for you. You might have a flair for designing great websites, and there’s plenty of demand for freelance web designers on the internet.The point is to find something that you can see yourself enjoying every day and then finding a way to turn that into income.Buying a FranchiseSome people simply don’t want to go through the stress of setting up and building a new business from scratch. If this sounds like you, there are plenty of excellent home-based business models already available for sale.These might include franchise opportunities in such a wide variety of industries that you’re sure to find one to suit your needs. Franchises offer you a ready-made business model to follow and include plenty of support to help you succeed.Fulfil a NeedMost top home-based business success stories come from those who saw a need for a particular product or service and then worked out a way to fulfil that need. For example, computer repair services are in high demand simply because the average person doesn’t know how to fix many of the problems they can have. Book-keeping services are also increasing in demand due to the increase in self-employed people. These people want to run their businesses and work on increasing sales, so hiring someone to do the bookwork for them is common sense.If you can see a way that your own skills or knowledge could be put to good use, you could provide a valuable consulting service for someone.Finding a top home-based business opportunity is much easier than most people think, but it’s important you find one that really suits you.