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Old 01-10-2009, 01:23 PM   #21
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You can argue that stocks will come back over the long term, but if the next 10 years is anything like the last 10 years, that's far from guaranteed. You can stretch your investment horizon out as far as you like but that still doesn't ensure you'll eventually make your money back. Obviously the risk/return tradeoff exists. But for risk to be real (and for investors to be compensated for it) sometimes investments will blow up. If we all agreed stocks were risky but you could get around this risk just by never selling when they were down, they wouldn't really be risky after all. I'm not arguing that "this time it's different" but I am skeptical that patience solves all of equities' problems.

So what else is there? I haven't found a whole lot of good options for long-term savings.
Soup, I feel ya bro. Since I graduated college, I've been through two bubbles.. the tech crash and now the subprime/credit/upcoming consumer crisis. The talking heads on TV, and message boards pundits for that matter, will tell you that 'time is on your side' and 'every XXX number of years has been a positive return in stocks' and 'a well diversified portfolio will protect downside risk' etc, etc.

While I don't disagree with any of these comments my first hand experience is exactly zero or slightly negative return after exposure to equities over the past 9 years. So basically it definitely sobers me up and allows me to laugh at the Dave Ramsey/David Bach/Suze Orman's of the world that magically project a 10% ROI over 30-40 years of equity investments. Laugh out freaking loud. I think many of us young-ins will live with 5% net of fees, expenses, and gains taxes. Not much inflation protection there either.

soup, I got no great advice for you. I do think that you should probably stock your cash coffers over the next 1-2 years. Not just emergency fund, but I call it my F-I-F-U fund. Having, let's say 2 years of living expenses in cash would make you Financially Independent. The last part, F-U is having enough cash in the bank to basically say F-U to your job if things go incredibly sour and you find no way out. It helps you sleep at night. Yeah there's the risk that inflation eats away at it, but inflation eats away at equity returns, when realized, as well. Plus you've already paid taxes on the cash you have in the bank. As for investments, I have not stopped DCA into the stock market and considering RE investments. This should and will not cease for me. Equities, in theory, have much more upside than cash and RE as we all know has historically been a good leveraged investment outpacing inflations by a couple percentage points per year. Good luck man
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Old 01-10-2009, 01:27 PM   #22
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So basically it definitely sobers me up and allows me to laugh at the Dave Ramsey/David Bach/Suze Orman's of the world that magically project a 10% ROI over 30-40 years of equity investments.
Actually, Ramsey's worse. The number he routinely throws out is 12%. As in doubling your money about every six years.

For someone as generally conservative with finances as he is, it floors me that he makes such overly optimistic assumptions.
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Old 01-10-2009, 01:38 PM   #23
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Bob & i play at different ends of the playground - what you describe is pretty much the same sort of thing we did. Only interest rates were crazy high. Mid '80s and on we were buying beat up places that the owners wanted out of bad. Did a number of owner-carry contracts, put all our time and money into fixing them up and getting them rented, and ran in the red as we pushed the principal payments. I'm seeing plenty of places that $20k would get a buyer in.

Yes, you do have to hope that property values go up - not a very tough thing to imagine if you (1)figure that government regulation($$$) will always increase, making building more and more expensive(2)figure population will increase(3)figure that inflation will increase as more and more free money is printed. You can't think in terms of 5 years though, and, if doing rental property, do need to realize that you are buying your retirement with an extra job. Not like the stock market, where i understand money is given to investors free free free.
calmloki, I'm bearish on RE where I live (Los Angeles) but I do agree with you in theory. There are many local markets where investment and cash flow properties are an excellent long-term investment. Not just monthly cash flow but also... tax shelters, limited liability via say an LLC, price appreciation, and depreciation writeoff. Quick, don't let the secret out!!

What is stopping me is that there aren't many local places like this in SoCal b/c there are too many investors with too much capital to compete with. There are however a few neighborhoods in the East Coast which I am currently scouting and am planning a visit in the spring to visit properties. It may be a pain to hire out a property company, deal with rent payment defaults (~10% of the time), and some overall tax complications. Its not without some headaches but worth it over the long haul. We'll see what happens.
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Old 01-10-2009, 01:39 PM   #24
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You'll inherit alot of high appreciating real estate. Quityerbitchin
It's not that easy. I will inherit ancestral properties that, yes have appreciated nicely, but that I have sworn not to sell (unless I have no other choice). I inherit them to enjoy but also to maintain for future generations. So they will represent a huge chunk of my net worth, but will provide zero income (cash flow currently balances out) and zero capital to fund my retirement. In other words, it doesn't change the fact that I have to find ways to fund my own retirement independently of any inheritance I receive.
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Old 01-10-2009, 01:39 PM   #25
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I would not believe any governmental entities saying "appreciation" is plus any percent and any area regarding homes. They have a very VESTED interest in you believing that - how else are they going to get you to go along with raising your RE taxes?
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Old 01-10-2009, 01:39 PM   #26
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As others have mentioned, there are plenty of headwinds for equity returns just looking at the situation for 401(k)s:
  • Baby boomers will eventually have to start taking distributions, (though that money will be returned to companies as revenue as it is spent)
  • Lots of companies eliminating the 401k match, making 401ks less attractive
  • 20-30 year olds may have so much education debt to service that they can't afford to use their 401k, even if it's offered
All of this translates to decreased demand for stocks. Although 401ks have been around for my entire life, they are a relatively recent invention. Is it possible that the last 30 years of increasing 401k popularity has increased demand for stocks above their long term average - and now we're seeing that unwind? Could the 401k and the equities that it usually holds go out of favor? Again, not saying that "it's different this time" but I do think macro factors are worth considering when you decide to pay your money and take your chances. I still own a lot of equity mutual funds, but I am wondering where to commit new funds as they come in the future.

When your target retirement fund is down 35% in a year, you need a 54% gain the following year just to break even, and then you're still underwater after inflation. Does anyone really think we're going to get a 54% gain in 2009? It's very frustrating to work hard to save and LBYM so you can fund a Roth for a few years, then see a third of it wiped out, and you can't even harvest the tax losses.
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Old 01-10-2009, 01:46 PM   #27
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AND it will be inherited at the cost basis at time of (what's the term?) decedents death. assuming tax law stays the same.....
Sweet mother of God, now that's free money. Even better than that $500,000 free money they give couples who sell their principal residence! Did ya ever wonder why they capped that at $500,000 if real estate only appreciates at 4% a year?
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Old 01-10-2009, 02:14 PM   #28
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Starting today, how practical is this scenario for the average 30-ish investor and saver? I mean, congrats on timing RE well and the appreciation, but banks are tightening up credit and most requiring 20% down on cashflow investment properties. I'm guessing you were highly leveraged (maybe 20 to 1) using a 30-year or ARM which works when prices are appreciating. Again, congrats on the purchases.

But when RE prices are flat or decreasing, this is not a time to be leveraged in investments like real estate. Its equivalent with going 'all-in' in the stock market not just with the 20K you have in the bank, but another 80K that the bank loaned you at 5% interest. So you're in the market all-in with 100K and subject to market forces. You have to pay back you bank 5% interest over the next 30 years on that 80K you borrowed. You have to hope that investments appreciate and not stay flat or decline.
This is as doable today as it was in the 70's for my first purchase, and subsequent purchases in the 80's, 90's, early 2000 and just this last September 2008. My 2000 purchases are all 20% down, 30 year fixed mortgages. I'd leverage 100% if they'd let me at a fixed rate. Wouldn't bother me if appreciation was flat or declining as long as my payments are fixed. Hell you're better off being heavily leveraged because you have nothing to lose if you think the sh*t is hitting the fan. How are you better off if the first $100,000 lost is yours? I'd rather it was the banks. But then I've never had that problem because most any property in the US in a decent area appreciates 10%+ over time.
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Old 01-10-2009, 02:28 PM   #29
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I haven't read it, but Moshe Milevsky's recent book "Are you a stock or a bond" might be worth a read.

To quote from the jacket notes on Amazon.com:
In an era when traditional corporate pensions are disappearing, Social Security’ s sustainability is in question, healthcare costs are skyrocketing, and society is dumping more and more financial risk squarely onto your shoulders, Moshe Milevsky helps you comprehensively integrate all the opportunities and risks in your life: your career risks, your portfolio risks, your housing risks, and even your personal inflation and longevity risks that could lead you to financial regret and a ruined retirement. Then, he introduces a powerful, new framework for thinking about and managing your financial future that you can use to systematically reduce your vulnerability to each of these risks and, thus, generate long-term financial security.

To maximize your investment returns and protect yourself and your family, you must learn to think of yourself as a small company, with assets, liabilities, a balance sheet, an income statement, and real shareholder equity. The composition and choices you make with your financial capital should reflect the nature and security of your career or job, which is your unique “human capital.” So, for example, if You, Inc. is like a “stock,” make sure your retirement savings are tilted toward “bonds.” If your job is more secure and You, Inc. is essentially a “bond,” then make sure your retirement savings are tilted toward “stocks.” Get personal with your investments and make your financial capital serve and protect your human capital. Factoring in your unique “human capital” adds a new dimension to financial planning which is a critical next step for sound and effective investing.
</I></B>
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Old 01-10-2009, 02:33 PM   #30
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The composition and choices you make with your financial capital should reflect the nature and security of your career or job, which is your unique “human capital.” So, for example, if You, Inc. is like a “stock,” make sure your retirement savings are tilted toward “bonds.” If your job is more secure and You, Inc. is essentially a “bond,” then make sure your retirement savings are tilted toward “stocks.”
I can see some merit to this thinking, but it's still a bit flawed.

The problem is that the people who are "bonds", with steady, stable and secure finances -- probably with very secure jobs and pensions -- are BOTH more able to take stock market risk AND less in need to do so. So it's kind of a conundrum for people who are "stocks" (less secure jobs, no pension, et cetera); they NEED to take more market risk but yet are also less likely to be able to withstand heavy market losses and still have any hope for retirement.
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Old 01-10-2009, 02:42 PM   #31
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All,

There's also still ways to get a pension from just a part-time job.
My dad retired 6 yrs ago at age 52 with just investments and a
paid off house. He started to get concerned a few years later
about rising health insurance costs and his lack of a pension, so he
got a part time job driving a school bus in his county. He does
have to get up early on weekday mornings, but he still golfs six
days a week, has summers and long holidays off and should get about
1k/mo + partial health insurance benes when he hits 65.

Cheers,
LB
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Old 01-10-2009, 03:03 PM   #32
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Of course what the RE fans don't bothermentioning isthat RE is a PITA and effectively a second job. If you have limited alternatives, I suppose that's what you do, but for those of us with a day job RE would have to be very attractively priced indeed to make it worth it. At least where I live, it ain't there yet. Maybe in another year, maybe never.

Soup, I hate to tell you this, but there are no free lunches. Either you live with the greater volatility of equities and other risky assets, or you stick with TIPS and I bonds and work/save a lot longer. It is what it is. But before you make a decision, go take another look at the historical data.
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Old 01-10-2009, 03:16 PM   #33
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The one thing that I have learned on this board is that we are all different and our circumstances are all different as well. There is no one-fits-all path to early-retirement. Advice from strangers who know nothing about you can only go so far. Each one of us has to find what works for ourselves.

I know people who made a lot of money with stocks (because they started investing in the 70's or 80's), people who made a lot of money with bonds (buy 30 year treasuries in the early 80's), people who made a lot of money in RE, etc... And they all seem to think that their way is the best (if not the only) way to prosperity. In the end, their experiences are only anecdotal. They are merely a reflection of the past, not the future.

Ultimately, you have to come up with a plan you can live with, execute it, and hope it works.
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Old 01-10-2009, 03:31 PM   #34
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Of course what the RE fans don't bothermentioning isthat RE is a PITA and effectively a second job. If you have limited alternatives, I suppose that's what you do, but for those of us with a day job RE would have to be very attractively priced indeed to make it worth it. At least where I live, it ain't there yet. Maybe in another year, maybe never.
Soup, don't believe this poppycock! I don't remember brewer54321 mentioning how many rentals he's managed and for how long but I've been doing it for 25+ years in three different states and currently have five rentals 3,000 miles away!!(not that I specifically recommend this) and I have a full time professional career. The few actual hours I spend barely qualifies this as a hobby unless you count all the time I spend counting the money, making graphs showing the pay down in mortgages and increases in income and appreciation! Conservatively $10,000,000(if historic rates drop by 50%) to $21,000,000 in 27 years with about $4,000,000 in rents over the same period

Why would anyone say there is anything wrong with people like calmloki that have turned their investing into their day job. At least he has a good boss. A lot of people here would kill for that. And to infer that he was forced to do that because of "limited alternatives" is bull. Not that it's rocket science but there are obviously many here who couldn't do it successfully. And if you can't make it with 40% return on your equity unless RE is "very attractively priced" you're really just saying you(in the Royal sense) don't have the bill$. not that there is anything wrong with that but don't go bashing on something you don't know alot about.
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Old 01-10-2009, 04:49 PM   #35
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Soup, don't believe this poppycock! I don't remember brewer54321 mentioning how many rentals he's managed and for how long but I've been doing it for 25+ years in three different states and currently have five rentals 3,000 miles away!!(not that I specifically recommend this) and I have a full time professional career. The few actual hours I spend barely qualifies this as a hobby unless you count all the time I spend counting the money, making graphs showing the pay down in mortgages and increases in income and appreciation! Conservatively $10,000,000(if historic rates drop by 50%) to $21,000,000 in 27 years with about $4,000,000 in rents over the same period

Why would anyone say there is anything wrong with people like calmloki that have turned their investing into their day job. At least he has a good boss. A lot of people here would kill for that. And to infer that he was forced to do that because of "limited alternatives" is bull. Not that it's rocket science but there are obviously many here who couldn't do it successfully. And if you can't make it with 40% return on your equity unless RE is "very attractively priced" you're really just saying you don't have the b*lls. not that there is anything wrong with that but don't go bashing on something you don't know alot about.
RE appreciation rates over the past 25 years have truly been historic. How do you project the next 25 years given macro trends? hono, perhaps you can provide some guidance for us young-ins on this board instead of sounding like Robert Allen or similar RE tout as to how we can wisely leverage RE to create a positive cash flow that will outpace inflation. Especially considering the capital restraints and gradual deleveraging of all credit, mortgage and non-mortgage alike. I have done the research myself and may be purchasing a couple cashflow properties in the spring. But I am nowhere near as optimistic entering this type of investment as others and long term I hope that my RE portfolio comprises only 25-33% of my NW.

Maybe I'm coming across as a bit harsh but this is classic fallacy of composition. Not everyone can wisely make money in RE just because you did it.
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Old 01-10-2009, 05:06 PM   #36
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The "are you a stock or bond" book looks interesting, I'll check it out. Based on nothing at all, I would say I am definitely bond-like.

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Soup, don't believe this poppycock!
Hono, I hear what you're saying, but you do have to admit that RE:
  • takes up more of your free time (if you're going to manage it yourself) compared to just buying a bond or a mutual fund and letting the dividends roll in
  • can offer great returns, as it has in your case, or can blow you up, as can any investment that depends on a high degree of leverage
I don't doubt your success in RE and your enthusiasm for it, but I know we have seen posts on this board from others who bought RE as investment and got hosed by it. Maybe they were noobs who drank the Kyosaki kool-aid and didn't know what they were doing, but still...RE is not a low risk / high return proposition. I would also challenge your statement that RE in any "decent" area appreciaties +10%/year...at that rate, the majority of my generation would never be able to afford a house, because I can assure you our salaries are not increasing at 10% YoY in perpetuity.

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But before you make a decision, go take another look at the historical data.
I agree, it is convincing, and I think that it is still very likely that equities will continue to compensate investors for their higher risk over the long term. But there must be some non-zero probability that things DON'T work out that way. Governments can change business regulations, the world can change, etc. Maybe that risk is 0.01%? 1%? 10%? I don't know. But my hopes of ever retiring on a stock-heavy portfolio would be dashed if we have a 20 year period of sideways movement. Or a 50% decline the year before I decide to jump.

Before putting too much faith in historical results...I was reading my finance textbook yesterday (published in 2006) and it said something like, "although we can calculate stock market volatility for the last 100 years, the last 40 years is more appropriate for future estimates of excess returns, because kurtosis is not present." OOPS! Maybe they should've included the 1929-1935 market after all! Those fat tails never really go away...they just lie in wait.
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Old 01-10-2009, 06:00 PM   #37
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RE appreciation rates over the past 25 years have truly been historic. How do you project the next 25 years given macro trends? hono, perhaps you can provide some guidance for us young-ins on this board instead of sounding like Robert Allen or similar RE tout as to how we can wisely leverage RE to create a positive cash flow that will outpace inflation. Especially considering the capital restraints and gradual deleveraging of all credit, mortgage and non-mortgage alike. I have done the research myself and may be purchasing a couple cashflow properties in the spring. But I am nowhere near as optimistic entering this type of investment as others and long term I hope that my RE portfolio comprises only 25-33% of my NW.

Maybe I'm coming across as a bit harsh but this is classic fallacy of composition. Not everyone can wisely make money in RE just because you did it.
Historic appreciation rates over the last 25 years! I got a suit older than that so listen up. Prop 13 was voted on 30 stinkin years ago cause Grandma was being taxed out of her house because the values were doubling every couple of years in the ancient 60's and 70's. It's not that hard to determine a high demand area and generally for that to change quickly something drastic has to happen. What area are you purchasing in and what appreciation do you expect, 50% less than historic, historic, or 50% less, or are you just buying and hoping things are all good? I'd like to hear more about your research and your less optimistic view of the future. I don't even know who Robert Allen is as I'm not about "deal of the day". It may work but I'm happy with what I'm doing. So I'm invested, I know what my fixed expenses are and can reasonably predict my future variable expenses and income. It's all good!

And I never said everyone can make money like I did. But everyone that bought in the places that I did in the times that I got the same results. Another advantage of being older is that I heard your arguements in the 70's, 80's 90's, 00's from people that are sorry they didn't listen then. Hey, maybe you'll be lucky and get horrible results. Then you'll be able to tell me "I told you so!"
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Old 01-10-2009, 06:08 PM   #38
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But everyone that bought in the places that I did in the times that I got the same results.
And everyone who bought MSFT in 1986 and sold in Sept 2007 did really well, too. How hard can this be--just find a good stock, put all your money into it, and get rich, Rich, RICH!. Just like real estate.
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Old 01-10-2009, 06:12 PM   #39
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And everyone who bought MSFT in 1986 and sold in Sept 2007 did really well, too. How hard can this be--just find a good stock, put all your money into it, and get rich, Rich, RICH!. Just like real estate.
And why would the average person know that MSFT would be a winner? I was here in CA and probably never heard of it.

However,

I purchased in CA in 1986 and anyone that purchased then had a pretty good idea that NOW was a good time to buy CA real estate.
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Old 01-10-2009, 06:17 PM   #40
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Historic appreciation rates over the last 25 years! I got a suit older than that so listen up. Prop 13 was voted on 30 stinkin years ago cause Grandma was being taxed out of her house because the values were doubling every couple of years in the ancient 60's and 70's. It's not that hard to determine a high demand area and generally for that to change quickly something drastic has to happen. What area are you purchasing in and what appreciation do you expect, 50% less than historic, historic, or 50% less, or are you just buying and hoping things are all good? I'd like to hear more about your research and your less optimistic view of the future. I don't even know who Robert Allen is as I'm not about "deal of the day". It may work but I'm happy with what I'm doing. So I'm invested, I know what my fixed expenses are and can reasonably predict my future variable expenses and income. It's all good!

And I never said everyone can make money like I did. But everyone that bought in the places that I did in the times that I got the same results. Another advantage of being older is that I heard your arguements in the 70's, 80's 90's, 00's from people that are sorry they didn't listen then. Hey, maybe you'll be lucky and get horrible results. Then you'll be able to tell me "I told you so!"
If you're still around in 30 years, we'll talk. Looks like I touched a nerve there grandpa, so I'll leave it as is. No one can doubt your RE success, but for someone who spends his days counting money perhaps you should handle yourself with a modicum of class and perhaps a teaching spirit, neither of which I've seen here on the YD boards.

Old guys flashing cash to under 30-year olds who have already seen two boom/bust bubbles since they entered the workforce, hmmm, not sure what kind of reaction you should get here. RE investing will become a part of my investment portfolio but not all of it. Not going to put all my eggs in one basket.
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