DIY real estate investing or call an expert?
Many, if not most of us have hobbies. Obviously they’re by definition the antithesis to ‘callin’ the guy.’ Then, there are those times in life we must choose, if there is a choice. Do we chance doing things on our own, or do we call the expert? There are also the times we all like to forget — when we completely screw the pooch ourselves, then call the guy to clean up the Chinese fire drill we’ve created.
In my family, I’m in the distinct minority when it comes to this choice. Count me solidly in the ‘bring in the expert’ crowd. I came by this honestly, as growing up, no male in my family could do much more than screw in a lightbulb — not an exaggeration. My male role models were excellent, but thanks to them, if I ever find myself needing to earn a living with my hands, I’ll starve. Then, there are the so-called manuals for various electronic devices we buy. Pick the smartest eighth grader in your local middle school/junior high, and I promise you they’ll write an infinitely superior manual. ‘Course they have the advantage. Their intent would be to, you know, simply communicate how to make the product work. But I digress.
Calling in the experts
What’s important enough for you to Call the Guy?
One day while visiting my in-laws — I was 24 or so — one of my brother-in-laws asked me where I was goin’. “Gonna change the oil on my truck”. “No, really, where?” They literally came out to the driveway to watch. I changed my own oil and filter for the next 12 years or thereabouts, as it relaxed me — until it didn’t.
It was shortly after I bought my first really high quality car that I stopped. Since the engine alone was worth at least six times what I sold the truck for, the days of changin’ my own oil ended.
Saving folks from real estate investment fiascos
I talk to folks all the time who are lookin’ for advice on how to extract themselves from investment real estate fiascos. My favorite is when they found out the hard way that callin’ one’s self a flipper doesn’t make ya one. Go figure. Unless you have so much money, buyin’ a house to fix ‘n flip is like Vegas cash, don’t do it yourself. The self-evident exception would be that you’re in construction AND can arguably claim expert status in the required skills. We’ll charitably call that unlikely. Yet those challenged when it comes to rational, logical thought, do this all the time, in virtually all markets.
Though a surprise to some, it’s often worse when investing for the long haul. After all, how hard can it be, right? Buy low, sell high. Who needs Einstein in the room? Not them. Been doin’ this forever, and I’ll never understand their thought process.
It’s their freakin’ retirement, yet they treat it as if they can do some in-depth research, read a book or two, talk to a local investor, and voilà! — they’re not only competent real estate investors, but’ve made their ultimate retirements secure. You may think I’m generalizing, but I talk to three or four of ’em every month. Some I can help, about half require either an act of God or a magic wand.
Where is your line?
Again, I ask the question — Where’s your line? When is it valuable enough to you to call in an expert?
Ultimately, the problem doesn’t reside in the answers to some of your most complex questions. It lives in the universe of questions you’ll never know to ask. Those are the answers that bite us all where we sit. This cannot be breakin’ news to most. Still, given the depressingly high percentage of people who think putting together and executing a viable retirement plan is merely a product of a little research, it must indeed be breaking news.
Think I’m exaggerating? Don’t believe me. Take a moment and think about your extended family, friends and acquaintances, neighbors and co-workers. Most are hard pressed to name even one person who’s retired well. Some can name one or two. I’ll leave it to you what ‘retired well’ means.
The common denominator of successful retirements
I have first hand knowledge of dozens who’ve retired well. By well, I mean they live where they want, travel as they please, and still save money. Many of ’em have incomes exceeding the most they ever earned while working. No, really, they do. Know what their common denominator is? They made the decision, early on, that maybe, just maybe their retirement wasn’t a do-it-yourself project.
Hobbies are for fun and relaxation. You screw up, you learn, and do it better next time. It’s not only part of the process, it’s usually part of the fun. Over time, the big failures turn into small ones, and before ya know it, you’re pretty damn good at it. We all know those who’ve become so good at their hobby, many consider them bonafide experts.
Smartass alert – the upside to treating the creation of your dream retirement as if it was a do-it-yourself project? You won’t hafta call the guy to learn how to say, ‘Welcome to Wal-Mart!’
Is the real estate industry endorsing Carson’s nomination to HUD?
(BUSINESS NEWS) Ben Carson’s initial appointment to HUD was controversial given his lack of experience in housing, but what is the pulse now?
NAR strongly backs Dr. Carson’s nomination
When President-Elect Donald Trump put forth Dr. Ben Carson’s name as the nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, NAR President William E. Brown said, “While we’ve made great strides in recent years, far more can be done to put the dream of homeownership in reach for more Americans.”
At the time of nomination, the National Association of Realtors (the largest trade organization in the nation) offered a positive tone regarding Dr. Carson and said the industry looks forward to working with him. But does that hold true today?
The confirmation hearings yesterday were far less controversial than one would expect, especially in light of how many initially reacted to his nomination. Given his lack of experience in housing, questions seemed to often center around protecting the LGBT community and veterans, both of which he pledged to support.
In fact, Dr. Carson said the Fair Housing Act is “one of the best pieces of legislation we’ve ever had in this country,” promising to issue a “world-class plan” for housing upon his confirmation…
Job openings hit 14-year high, signaling economic improvement
The volume of job openings is improving, but not across all industries. The overall economy is improving, but not evenly across all career paths.
Job openings hit a high point
To understand the overall business climate, the U.S. Labor Department studies employment, today releasing data specific to job vacancies. According to the department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLT) for April, job openings rose to 5.38 million, the highest seen since December 2000, and a significant jump from March’s 5.11 million vacancies. Although a lagging indicator, it shows strength in the labor market.
The Labor Department reports that the number of hires in April fell to 5 million, which indicates a weak point in the strong report, and although the volume remains near recent highs, this indicates a talent gap and highlights the number of people who have left the labor market and given up on looking for a job.
Good news, bad news, depending on your profession
That said, another recent Department report notes that employers added 221,000 jobs in April and 280,000 in May, but the additions are not evenly spread across industries. Construction jobs rose in April, but dipped in professional and business services, hospitality, trade, and transportation utilities. In other words, white collar jobs are down, blue collar jobs are up, which is good or bad news depending on your profession.
Additionally, the volume of people quitting their jobs was 2.7 million in April compared to the seven-year high of 2.8 million in March. Economists follow this number as a metric for gauging employee confidence in finding their next job.
If you’re in the market for a job, there are an increasing number of openings, so your chance of getting hired is improving, but there is a caveat – not all industries are enjoying improvement.
If you’re hiring talent, you’ll still get endless resumes, but there appears to be a growing talent gap for non-labor jobs, so you’re not alone in struggling to find the right candidate.
Economists suspect the jobs market will continue to improve as a whole, but this data does not pertain to every industry.
Gas prices are down, so are gas taxes about to go up?
Do low gas prices mean higher gas taxes are on the way? Budgeting for 2015 just got a bit more complicated, if some politicians have their way.
Gas taxes and your bottom line
Many industries rely heavily on time in their vehicle, not just truck drivers and delivery trucks. Sales professionals hop in their vehicles throughout the day, as do many other types of professionals (service providers like plumbers, and so forth). For that reason, gas prices and taxes are a relevant line item that must be budgeted for 2015, but with politicians making the rounds to push for higher gas taxes, budgeting becomes more complicated.
Gas prices are down roughly 50 cents per gallon compared to a year ago, which some analysts say have contributed to more money in consumers’ pockets. Some believe that this will improve holiday sales, but others believe the timing is just right to increase federal taxes on gas. The current tax on gas is 18.40 cents per gallon, and on diesel are 24.40 cents per gallon.
Supporters and opponents are polar opposites
Supporters argue as follows: gas prices are low, so it won’t hurt to increase federal gas taxes, in fact, those funds must go toward improving our infrastructure, which in the long run, saves Americans money because smoother roads mean better gas mileage and less congestion.
Gas taxes have long been a polarizing concept, and despite lowered gas prices, the controversial nature of the taxes have not diminished.
While some are pushing for complete abolition of federal gas taxes, others, like former Pennsylvania Governor, Ed Rendell (D) tell CNBC, “Say that cost the average driver $130 a year. They would get a return on that investment” in safer roads and increased quality of life, he added.
The Washington Post‘s Chris Mooney points out that federal gas taxes have been “stuck” at 18 cents for over 20 years, last raised when gas was barely a dollar a gallon and that the tax must increase not only to improve the infrastructure, but to “green” our behavior, and help our nation find tax reform compromise.
Is a gas tax politically plausible?
Mooney writes, “So, this is not an argument that a gas tax raise is politically plausible — any more than a economically efficient tax on carbon would be. It’s merely a suggestion that — ignoring politics — it might be a pretty good idea.”
Rendell noted, “The World Economic Forum, 10 years ago, rated us the best infrastructure in the world,” adding that we “need to do something for our infrastructure, not in a one or two year period, but over a decade.”
Others would note that this rating has not crumbled in just a few years, that despite many bridges and roads in need of repair, our infrastructure is still superior to even the most civilized nations.
Regardless of the reasons, most believe that Congress won’t touch this issue with a ten-foot pole, especially leading up to another Presidential campaign season starting next year.
“I think it’s too toxic and continues to be too toxic,” Steve LaTourette (the former Republican congressman best known for his close friendship with his fellow Ohioan, Speaker John Boehner) tells The Atlantic. “I see no political will to get this done.”
Whether the time is fortuitous or not, and regardless of the positive side effects, many point to a fear of voters’ retaliation against any politician siding with a gas hike, so this matter going any further than the proposal stage is unlikely.
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