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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths
Old 11-08-2004, 10:03 PM   #41
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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths

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. . . OTOH, your hostility, or need to prevail, is written all over your post as is pretty clear by the invective above quoted.
Forget about it, mikey. TH feels a lot of stress from his need to time the markets and apparently from eating too much fish oil. But he gets over it.
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C'mon, guys.
Old 11-08-2004, 11:45 PM   #42
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C'mon, guys.

I time the markets, I eat fish oil, and we have a huge whompin' mortgage for investment purposes.

As TH has pointed out before, I think that we're all agreed that a mortgage held for investment purposes should have a lower interest rate than any other bonds in the retirement portfolio. Otherwise you're effectively taking out a higher-interest loan to buy lower-interest bonds. No matter how good it makes you feel, you're losing money.

I don't remember who made the point first (SG?), but investing the cash generated by having a mortgage gives you a larger "retirement portfolio" (if you will). And that larger portfolio is demonstrably more survivable in FIRECalc's database, which theoretically makes a retirement portfolio more survivable in the future. But taking out a mortgage requires accepting those odds, and not everyone is comfortable with doing so. Either decision is valid and neither is "wrong".

Ishmael makes a good point about inflation, too. With the Fed ensuring that we never see "deflation", we get to pay off a fixed amount for 30 years with dollars that are worth less every year. Great deal! But very difficult to quantify.

Because a portfolio based on mortgage debt has a higher percentage of stocks (or at least riskier bonds paying more than the mortgage costs), it's more subject to volatility risk. Not everyone is willing to endure a volatile portfolio. And there's no risk-free guarantee that the invested mortgage money will even come close to outperforming the cost of the mortgage. Although the odds are on our side, that doesn't guarantee any future performance. Once again, sounds like a personal choice whose validity is not subject to question.

So, nothing new here, having a mortgage (or paying it off) is an extremely personal choice. Do the math for your situation, evaluate the odds and your risk profile, and consider how well you'll sleep at night. If it makes you feel better and you won't be losing money, then do it. If you're attracted to investing mortgage dollars because the odds are better than 50/50, then do it.

If you want to know why we're carrying such a big mortgage, then read the "Mortgage/ass(ets)" thread on the subject and PM me with more questions. If you can poke a hole in my logic then I'll thank you for saving us from a grievous error and we'll pay that puppy off tomorrow. However, if you're going to tell me that it's too volatile or that it's too hard to sleep at night-- well, that's a personal choice.

But let's not call each other dumb for doing so-- if we're so firm in our convictions then we should be loaning each other the money!

I have to point out, SG, that you could be accused of trolling TH-- he rises to the bait every time you bring up a post containing the word "mortgage". And, TH, I can understand setting the hook once or even twice. But every time? You know better than that.

I enjoy reading the links & ideas posted on these subjects. But there's no need to let controversial subjects degenerate into endless reciprocated diatribes...
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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths
Old 11-09-2004, 04:15 AM   #43
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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths

And then there's rent. That's the first thing I'd do - should living in Hurricane Alley make me an offer I couldn't refuse. I would be hard pressed to take money out of my ER portfolio to buy something frivolous like a house. But that's just me.
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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths
Old 11-09-2004, 04:57 AM   #44
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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths

Interesting. I didn't know mortgage can be such an exciting topic.

I thought about this a while back and realized the numbers can go both way. The wild cards are inflation, real estate rate of return and my portfolio return rate. And I decided (being a little risk averse maybe?) that I don't like the wild cards offered so I decided that I would like to pay my mortgage early (7 years).

I think mortgage (like many other investment vehicles) depends on each individual's discipline, investment knowledge, time horizon, level of comfort etc, etc and it is hard (though many finance writers always seem to try) to make a sweeping generalization. If you think you can come out ahead by investing the cash instead or paying the mortgage, then go ahead. If you think money saved by paying mortgage early is better than distant 30-year something market payout then pay your mortgage. There is no myth either way.

There is a lot of clamouring and song and dance in financial reporting community (they do have to churn out articles to put food on their table). There are very few financial concepts that work for everyone (LBYM is one of them) and lots of noise in between.

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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths
Old 11-09-2004, 05:00 AM   #45
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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths

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Azanon, if I understand you, you are saying that a home mortgage is functionally equivalent to a margin loan.This assertion is flawed on several counts. One, you can't fix the rate on a margin loan while you can on a home mortagage loan.
What difference does that make? *At the point you think the margin interest rate becomes unacceptable, you simply give them their money back either with the money you borrowed, or god-forbid, with another loan. *You make it sound like after the point you margin, you can't undue it for whatever reason you deem necessary (such as the interest rate going up).

Quote:
Two, a home loan is only callable in a few instances-eg, you sell the house, or you fail to make a certain number of timely payments. As long as the physical collateral (your home) still exists, it doesn't matter what its market value is, your loan cannot be called. Not so with a margin loan. That is why experienced people have a healthy respect for margin calls.
Again, what difference does that make? First, its not like you lose anything of substance if the margin loan is called. *Second (Mikey), I am one of those that does not distinguish between a paper loses and real loses. *What "changes" if you get called on a margin loan? *They simply sell you out to cover the loan. *Your net equity before and after the margin call is the same. * *
..... *Thus, for all practical purposes, the risk being taken in my analogy is still the same; *you're intentionally investing borrowed money to try to exceed the interest rate on the note.

Quote:
Additionally, there are safeguards for mortgage borrowers on a primary residence, for example rules about forclosure. Ask anyone who got caught with margin debt in the 1987 equity downturn how fair a deal he thinks he got from his broker/lender.
I imagine they paid back the exact amount owed at the time of the call. *They cant tack *on a few thousand for good measure Mikey, lol.

Quote:
Your second point, about how the lender and borrower cannot have a win-win deal is also flawed because you evidentally have forgotten or do not know that there is third party to this tranaction in most cases.
If anything, that strengthens my argument. *You're telling me two people (or more) are profitting from me agreeing to take a loan, and i'm supposed to believe the loan is good for me as well? *Me, and David Ramsey, smell a rat.

Again, for clarily, i'm not advocating not getting a loan for a personal residence. *But, I do think its a good idea, for personal investing, to avoid loans in all other instances by being proactive and planning expenses AND paying off the mortgage ASAP. *The way i see it, if you owe "Jack" 100K, and you have 30K in the bank, that's Jack's 30K, not yours.
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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths
Old 11-09-2004, 05:05 AM   #46
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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths

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I also have doubts about what you assert is the callability of home mortagage loans, absent nonperformance on the part of the borrower. I am not a real estate attorney, so I really can't comment on when this might be true. If you can supply some instances of what you are talking about, I and possibly many others would be very interested in these "details".


Mikey

Most home lenders use what is called the Fannie Mae mortgage form. This form is used for loans that are sold on the secondary market. Each state has its own variant of the form so that the mortgage complies with state law requirements.

Under this form, the mortgage is in default if the borrower fails to comply with a terms of the mortgage. For example, the borrower doesn't make payments, doesn't pay property taxes, doesn't maintain insurance, sells the property, doesn't use the property as his residence for at least a year (yeah, that's what the form says), allows the property to deteriorate, lies on the loan application, etc. There must be a breach by the borrower of a term in the mortgage for a default to occur. Most states also require a time period where the borrower can cure the default.

On commercial property, many mortgage forms provide that the lender can call the loan in default if the lender "deems itself insecure". These "insecurity" clauses needless to say are disliked by commercial borrowers and sometimes they are able to negotiate out of them. I never have seen an insecurity clause in a home mortgage. Even in commercial loan, a lender is unlikely to start foreclosure just because it deems itself insecure.
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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths
Old 11-09-2004, 05:25 AM   #47
 
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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths

Good post Martha! Re. "deemed insecure", there is a school of thought in business that if you get deep enough into a lender's pockets and things get ugly, you are better off than if you had borrowed little. The theory is
if you are way overborrowed (and thus the lender
is way overcommitted) they don't dare foreclose, but must ride out the storm with you.
I know from personal experience this can work,
but here is the standard disclaimer: I am not suggesting
this path to anyone.

John Galt
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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths
Old 11-09-2004, 08:15 AM   #48
 
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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths

"...if you are way overborrowed (and thus the lender
is way overcommitted) they don't dare foreclose, but must ride out the storm with you..."





I read a story in the Wall Street Journal a couple years
ago about the "world's poorest man:" a Japanese
business man who owned lots of Tokyo real estate,
purchased with borrowed money, that
had depreciated to the extent that he had a negative
net worth of several billion dollars, hence his ranking
as the world's poorest man.

The banks holding the notes did not want to forclose as
they did not know what to do with the property, so they
let him continue to manage it.

He lived in a penthouse and had a chauffered limo drive
him around. Lived like a king.
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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths
Old 11-09-2004, 08:19 AM   #49
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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths

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Under this form, the mortgage is in default if the borrower fails to comply with a terms of the mortgage. *For example, the borrower doesn't make payments, doesn't pay property taxes, doesn't maintain insurance, sells the property, doesn't use the property as his residence for at least a year (yeah, that's what the form says), allows the property to deteriorate, *lies on the loan application, etc. *There must be a breach by the borrower of a term in the mortgage for a default to occur. *Most states also require a time period where the borrower can cure the default.
Yeah, IIRC this wasn't always the case but it was laws made by society for the greater good after the experiences of the great depression where lenders were calling mortgages that weren't in default. Because of the tight lending at the time they couldn't get a replacement mortgage or sell it and so defaulted losing whatever equity was built up. It really exacerbated the already bleak conditions at that time.
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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths
Old 11-09-2004, 11:00 AM   #50
 
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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths

I paid off the mortgage because my bond portfolio was paying significantly less interest than my mortgage (what I was paying to the creditors). I didn't have to touch the stock portion in order to pay the remainder on the mortgage. Although the interest on the mortgage payments was partially tax deductible, the interest on the bond payments was taxable. The interest on the bond portfolio didn't even come close to making the monthly mortgage payments.

My analysis leads to the following general rules:

a) if the interest rate on your mortgage is low relative to long term interest rates, keep the mortgage.

b) if you are a conservative or moderately conservative investor, and the remaining balance on the mortgage is less than ~20% of your portfolio, and you have a significant bond allocation that's paying less than your mortgage, it probably make sense to pay it down.

c) If you are an aggressive investor and don't use a significant bond allocation to reduce the volatility of your portfolio, then consider the mortgage as a tax deductible margin loan.

d) If you are just starting out, and you don't have significant assets yet, then keep the mortgage and keep saving until you have a significant portfolio, then see a&b above.
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Re: C'mon, guys.
Old 11-09-2004, 11:38 AM   #51
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Re: C'mon, guys.

hi Nords,

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I time the markets, I eat fish oil, and we have a huge whompin' mortgage for investment purposes...
Maybe Wab was wrong and it's not the fish oil that makes TH so disagreable. ;D


Quote:
As TH has pointed out before, I think that we're all agreed that a mortgage held for investment purposes should have a lower interest rate than any other bonds in the retirement portfolio. *Otherwise you're effectively taking out a higher-interest loan to buy lower-interest bonds. *No matter how good it makes you feel, you're losing money...
Well now. . . Think about that for a minute, Nords. I don't believe that, and I don't think many people will if they think about it for a few minutes. That's a lot like saying you should look at your investments each day and take everything out of the underperforming ones and put it all in your top performing one. If one of your investments earned 2% today and some of your investments earned 0.5%, do you conclude that you're losing money? Understanding the time frame of this decision is critical to understanding why keeping a low interest mortgage can be very valuable.

You have an allocation in large cap stocks, short term bonds, real estate, . . . whatever because you know that the performance today is not the performance tomorrow. You don't expect every one of those investments to perform the same (or even well) throughout the life of the investments. You have to consider the time frame of the investment and why you have it. One of the first questions unclemick always asks of people looking for investment advice is what purpose that investment is supposed to serve. That applies here too.

Quote:
I have to point out, SG, that you could be accused of trolling TH-- he rises to the bait every time you bring up a post containing the word "mortgage". *. .

Nords, people could accuse me of all sorts of things. They could call me names and spit at me. I really don't expect to let that bother me much (unless their spitting is on target) :). I read an article that dealt with an issue that has been discussed on this board, so I posted a summary and answered some questions. You may feel like this was an unproductive diatribe, but I actually felt like this was the closest we've come to having an honest, factual discussion of this issue. I really think that the messages from several other posters indicate this too.
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Re: C'mon, guys.
Old 11-09-2004, 12:17 PM   #52
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Re: C'mon, guys.

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I don't believe that, and I don't think many people will if they think about it for a few minutes. That's a lot like saying you should look at your investments each day and take everything out of the underperforming ones and put it all in your top performing one. If one of your investments earned 2% today and some of your investments earned 0.5%, do you conclude that you're losing money? Understanding the time frame of this decision is critical to understanding why keeping a low interest mortgage can be very valuable.
Can be, sure. But Nords' point was not that it could not be valuable. It was that it was not valuable in the case where the asset side of your balance sheet contains bonds that pay a lower rate of interest than you are paying on the mortgage.

A mortgage is just a callable bond with a duration shorter than that of regular callable bonds. So anyone paying a 5% 30 year mortgage and holding, for example, an intermediate term corporate bond or bond fund that pays 4% is burning their own money.
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Re: C'mon, guys.
Old 11-09-2004, 01:06 PM   #53
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Re: C'mon, guys.

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. . . *So anyone paying a 5% 30 year mortgage and holding, for example, an intermediate term corporate bond or bond fund that pays 4% is burning their own money.
Ahh . . . Now you've added something about timeframe. And even this is only true if you assume that you are holding the bond for the entire time of the mortgage.
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Re: C'mon, guys.
Old 11-09-2004, 01:26 PM   #54
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Re: C'mon, guys.

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And even this is only true if you assume that you are holding the bond for the entire time of the mortgage.
Under what circumstances do you expect the bond position to disappear?

This really isn't that hard. If you own $200k worth of bonds (individual or in a fund) that pays you 4% and you owe $200k on your mortgage on which you pay 5%, you're out of pocket two grand a year less taxes. It's the equivalent of lighting the stove with a Ben Franklin every month.

Why would you do this?
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Re: C'mon, guys.
Old 11-09-2004, 01:48 PM   #55
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Re: C'mon, guys.

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Under what circumstances do you expect the bond position to disappear?

This really isn't that hard. *If you own $200k worth of bonds (individual or in a fund) that pays you 4% and you owe $200k on your mortgage on which you pay 5%, you're out of pocket two grand a year less taxes. *It's the equivalent of lighting the stove with a Ben Franklin every month.

Why would you do this?
If you are in the 35% tax bracket and the bonds happen to be state municipals.
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Re: C'mon, guys.
Old 11-09-2004, 02:14 PM   #56
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Re: C'mon, guys.

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If you are in the 35% tax bracket and the bonds happen to be state municipals.
You're in the 35% bracket, which means your taxable income is >$300k. Your AGI is probably >$325k. Last I looked, people with $325k AGIs had their Schedule A deductions whacked.

So you're collecting 4% tax-exempt interest and paying 5% non-deductible interest. Tell me why this is supposed to be a good deal.
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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths
Old 11-09-2004, 03:09 PM   #57
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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths

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What difference does that make? *At the point you think the margin interest rate becomes unacceptable, you simply give them their money back either with the money you borrowed, or god-forbid, with another loan. *You make it sound like after the point you margin, you can't undue it for whatever reason you deem necessary (such as the interest rate going up).*
Azanon, this is probably beyond my ability to clarify. But there is power when one can control the timing of a financial decision. Say I get a $100,000 mortgage loan at 5.5% today (I don't know if this is realistic or not) vs a $100,000 margin loan. Say interest rates increase 2% over one year, and stock prices go down, as they well might under this scenario. Well, unless I am a momentum player, which I definitely am not, the securities that I bought at a higher price should still be attractive, likely more attractive. Under the mortgage scenario I can continue to fund it with a 5.5% loan. If interest rates increase 4 more points, I can still fund my these securities at 5.5%. I think it is fairly clear that the PV of my loan responsibility is going down as interest rates go up, as long as I have the fixed loan.

One factor that cuts slightly in the opposite direction is that the mortgage will ordinarily require amortization of the loan principle, whereas the margin loan is interest only.

If interest rates go down meaningfully, the margin loan would be better, at least with respect to rates. But I think this is low probability scenario, given the already rock bottom state of today's rates.


One more comment- you indicate that what counts on a balance sheet is the net equity, not the specific characteristics of the assets and liabilities involved. I think that net worth is important, but far from the whole story. There are liquidity and control issues to be considered also.

Lastly, none of this is meant to address whether or not one should use leverage. If one decides to do so, I think it is pretty clear that it is a good deal to fund it at historically low fixed rates, as is possible with a home mortgage in today's market.


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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths
Old 11-09-2004, 03:12 PM   #58
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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths

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Most home lenders use what is called the Fannie Mae *mortgage form. *This form is used for loans that are sold on the secondary market. *Each state has its own variant of the form so that the mortgage complies with state law requirements.

Under this form, the mortgage is in default if the borrower fails to comply with a terms of the mortgage. *For example, the borrower doesn't make payments, doesn't pay property taxes, doesn't maintain insurance, sells the property, doesn't use the property as his residence for at least a year (yeah, that's what the form says), allows the property to deteriorate, *lies on the loan application, etc. *There must be a breach by the borrower of a term in the mortgage for a default to occur. *Most states also require a time period where the borrower can cure the default.

On commercial property, many mortgage forms provide that the lender can call the loan in default if the lender "deems itself insecure". *These "insecurity" clauses needless to say are disliked by commercial borrowers and sometimes they are able to negotiate out of them. *I never have seen an insecurity clause in a home mortgage. *Even in commercial loan, a lender is unlikely to start foreclosure just because it deems itself insecure.
Martha, thanks for very concise expert's opinion on this issue.

Mikey
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Re: C'mon, guys.
Old 11-09-2004, 04:34 PM   #59
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Re: C'mon, guys.

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You're in the 35% bracket, which means your taxable income is >$300k. *Your AGI is probably >$325k. *Last I looked, people with $325k AGIs had their Schedule A deductions whacked.

So you're collecting 4% tax-exempt interest and paying 5% non-deductible interest. *Tell me why this is supposed to be a good deal.
I agree that someone in the 35% bracket must phase out his itemized deductions, but not all the interest is necessarily non-deductible as you say. Even someone in the 35% bracket could deduct most of the mortgage interest.

I was too lazy to do the math the 1st time, but let's look at the actual numbers now using someone in the 28% bracket that still proves my point.
AGI = $150,000
Mortgage Interest Paid= $30,000
Mortgage Interest Deductible = $29,685 (98.95%)
Lost Mortgage Interest Deduction = $315 (1.05%)

Mortgage Rate = 5%
Tax Free Bond Interest Rate = 4%

28% * 98.95% *= 27.706% effective tax savings

5% * 27.706% = 1.3853%

5% - 1.3853% = 3.6147% after-tax mortgage rate

Therefore, a 4% tax-free bond is better than paying a 5% mortgage.
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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths
Old 11-09-2004, 06:05 PM   #60
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Re: 6 Mortgage Myths

I plan on doing a 15-year mortgage when I buy a house. I'll probably get a roommate to help with the expenses. Then I'll have plenty of cash flow to pay the house off early. I'll do this for peace of mind and my own mental sanity. I can then buy a second house and rent it out, if the market seems good for rentals. Ideally, I would like to own two or three houses and have them fully paid off so I can start collecting some cash flow on those rentals in retirement.

Did you know that "The Donald" prefers investing in properties? You can see him on The Apprentice on Thursday's:
http://www.nbc.com/The_Apprentice/
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