The new Tesla Model 3 is only $35K? That’s at least what their advertising would like you to believe. It’s only a “bit more” expensive than your last vehicle purchase. Maybe it’s finally time to get on that; you’ll save so much money on gas too!
Hmm… it seems too good to be true, let’s slow down and take a moment to do some due diligence… after all, the advertised price is after government tax rebates and alleged gas savings. That seems like a shady way to advertise… after all, the base purchase price is really ~$47,600 and after all the fees and high financing costs it’s really much, much more.
In 2015, we purchased this luxury 6-plex for $960K with indoor parking, central air, four 3 bedrooms/2 bathroom units and two 1 bedroom 1 bathroom units. Each year we’ve been close to cashflow neutral, earning absolutely no monies from positive cashflow. Many of my startup students ask in bewilderment, “Why bother?”
The reality is that many of my new startup students have walked away from investment opportunities simply because they don’t generate cashflow. Unfortunately, they have likely missed out on some pretty amazing opportunities. The reality is that positive cashflow isn’t the only way to build wealth in real estate investing; in fact it often isn’t even the typical way.
Last year, my friend bought a cottage for $180K. His down payment was 25%, or $45K. This year he boasted to me that he had made $18K in a year off the cottage. It was recently appraised at $195K (+$15K equity) and he rented it out a few times this summer to earn $3K in additional cashflow. Not a bad return right? $18K total. If only it was true…
Here’s the reality…
Last night I met with a colleague of mine who said she didn’t have any money to invest in her retirement. As it turns out, within five minutes I found several instances where she was believing her own lies. The biggest one? Her car costs as much as her mortgage… that’s nuts!
Mortgage ($810 mortgage + $140 property tax)
$950 / month
Car ($465 payment + $250 insurance + $240 gas)
$955 / month
Short term pain for long term gain. Many people will avoid spending $100-200 to replace their lights with a more efficient alternative.
Recently I replaced the last 16 bulbs in my house with LEDs, the investment of $128 will break-even in less than 18 months and save me approximately $2,000 over the next 20 years.
At this pace, assuming no increase in electricity cost for the next 20 years (which is unlikely), worst case scenario I will earn an annual ROI of 33.3%; which is far greater than the historical average ROI of the stock market historical average of 10.1% (8.7% adjusted for inflation). There are many cases when masterful saving can outperform systematic investing and it’s worth paying attention to.
Take a look:
Does that $30,000 kitchen renovation really make you that much happier? Did you need granite countertops, new stainless steel appliances, built-in double ovens and recessed ceiling lighting?
Alternately, would new modern cabinetry with a standard countertop at a tenth of the price have been sufficient?
What about that $30,000 pool install? Did it need to be installed in-ground? Did you also need to replace your patio and extend it with high-end interlocking stone?
Alternately would an above ground pool that was a tenth the price have been sufficient?
Do these “luxurious” upgrades really bring you increased sustainable happiness or are you a victim to consumerism, short-term lust for higher-end physical possessions and, of course, trying to keep up with the Joneses.
Performing your due diligence when considering a real estate investment opportunity is the single most important step to ensuring an investment that meets your expectations.
Unfortunately most real estate investors that I’ve mentored have shared with me countless tales of errors and assumptions that have cost them severely. For this reason I am sharing an email that I sent this morning to help novice investors to learn.
The following email with attached cashflow analysis asks the questions required to ensure that I can make an informed decision without assumption. It also shows the realtor that I am serious, experienced and respectful of his time.
This is what a real estate cashflow analysis looks like. It informs you of your up-front costs, assesses cashflow positivity with current and potential future scenarios, budgets appropriately for vacancy/repair/contingency and accounts for overhead costs even if they may be unrealized (e.g. property management, accounting, bookkeeping, etc.). It is also vital to highlight any assumptions and verify them in writing, absolutely no exceptions.
By the end of 2011, I had completed nine years of real estate investment courses. Acquisition, cashflow, buy & hold, flipping, landlording, rent to own, taxation law… the list goes on and on.
Despite my educational knowledge, I still had not yet purchased a single investment property. Even though I had successfully run my own company for the previous fifteen years with positive cashflow in each and every year, I was still afraid to take the plunge.
I kept asking myself “How could I take so many calculated risks but be afraid to take this one?” I was stuck in a state of fear commonly coined as “analysis paralysis”. I would look for the perfect deal but before I would pull the trigger I’d make up excuses as to why each potential deal wouldn’t work. The truth is there’s no such thing as a perfect deal. The human mind can be our own worst enemy and I was battling against nobody other than myself. Trying to psyche myself into taking the next step, but for some reason I kept backing down, convincing myself as to why each opportunity wasn’t optimal.
In mid-2012 I booked vacation. I decided to stay home and relax. The previous two years’ vacation was spent repairing the house after extensive water damage which had nearly depleted all of my savings. It was early afternoon and I grabbed an ice cold Corona from the fridge and went to sit in the yard and do some reading. As I hunched down in my lounge chair I continued to read my latest real estate investment book. My attention was drifting in and out and I found myself reading and re-reading the materials. I felt frustration growing within me as I thought to myself “I know this s&%t. I’ve read it a hundred times in other books.” I stood up and blurted “That’s it! I’m going to buy a property or I’m going to stop reading about real estate investing.” That was the catalyst, the last nudge through the barrier of procrastination, the trigger required to break through my analysis paralysis.