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I've always felt that there was something very wrong with this that didn't make sense. We seem to be taught these two irreconcilable views:
1. Humans are born with inalienable rights to be free. Freedom is our nature and what makes us the most happy. Our founding fathers fought and died for their freedom and yours. It is the highest value and worth risking your life for. As Paul Revere said in this famous quote, "Give me liberty or give me death". America is the "land of the free".
2. In order to make a living in this world, you have to get a steady job which commits you long term to a life of slavery under a corporation (essentially a private dictatorship) where your daily routine and schedule is under the control of others, usually an oppressive system, where there is only conformity and no freethinking, where you live like a caged animal who kisses butt for peanuts. If you don't submit yourself to this "cage", you are maladaptive and your life has no meaning or purpose.
Now I don't know about you, but something never clicked or felt right about these two views that we are taught. What do you think? It's like we are just supposed to accept this huge contradiction and inconsistency in our values and beliefs.
Last edited by Winston on December 9th, 2009, 2:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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"It takes far less effort to find and move to the society that has what you want than it does to try to reconstruct an existing society to match your standards." - Harry Browne, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World
Statistics how, 80% of Americans hate their job, that says it all right there! It's funny, America is the "land of the free" but how can you be free when you hate your job? You spend most of your life working, so you probably spend most of your life doing something you hate, just so you can make money. It sounds like a bad deal if you ask me! No wonder why so many Americans can't wait until they retire!
?_? Who says you must work M-F 8-5 in a cubical to make a living?
For less than $1k you can get a real estate agent license, provided that you pass the exam with 70% (C minus). Then you print lots of flyers and hire a couple Mexicans to put them door to door for you.
You can work as a property manager and charge the owner $100/month per house. All you need is some tenant lease forms and post ads on Craiglist. Cost nothing. @_@ How to get customers? Talk to real estate agents and tell them that you'll give them some $$ for successful referrels.
You can get IT contracts and sub-contract the work to others (I do this).
If you REALLY want to, you can move to rural area and try homesteading. You'd be surprised how much $ you can make by growing hay - we pay >$20/bale here in LA.
If you have some skills, like programming, the Apple Mac & iPhone SDK is FREE, you only need to pay $100/year for developer network. Or you can develop for the Google Android. If you have engineering background, try thomasnet.com.
If you're too lazy, then you're SOL.
This is a simple answer but to put it bluntly..taxes. A developed nation is built on its middle class and so much of it depends on productivity and stability. A married man with a steady job is less likely to stray in society. The principle behind it isn't necessarily flawed but as a country shifts over from developed into a world economic leader the social priorities probably have to be re-evaluated.
Unfortunately for most Americans the government has squandered public coffers on useless wars to line the pockets of the industrial military complex. Also, with all the global competition and shifting weight the economic realities don't match up with the social realities. Back in the day a fresh college grad had decent prospects at finding a job right after school and easily putting a down payment on a house. These days..good f***ing luck with that. Unemployment has been at a record high for young people and real estate prices from the last couple decades have priced most Americans out of ever owning a home. Not to mention all the differences between what American women want these days compared with the past is drastically different.
The problem is your average American's measure of success is defined by material pursuits and obtaining enough wealth to sustain this old "American dream" which consumes everyone's life. This materialism, lack of social connection, as well as hard economic times ahead could create a lot of disillusioned people.
You could still do that in places like San Antonio & Austin TX, if you're willing to buy 15-20 mins outside the city. One of my friends just bought a brand new 3 bed 2 bath house about 20 mins outside Austin for $128k. He put $10k down and financed the rest at 4.5% 30 year fixed rate loan from USDA.
I had no idea USDA did home loans, always thought they only did loans to farms. But if you buy in more rural areas, they offer very generous loan terms.
I was laid off by my company in California, because they shifted IT operations to San Antonio TX and I didn't want to relocate. This is a popular "in-shoring" trend where companies move operations from more expensive cities to cheaper ones within the US. You can buy a new house in San Antonio today for $100k-120k. Many resale homes are avail for far less, all the way down to $30k fixer-upper range.
You can find homes in California for less than $200k too but they are also located in some farmland with little prospects for future appreciation and a long commute to any decent job (if you can find one). The point is the cost of living/quality of living and the income you earn is generally not congruent anymore. Not everyone has the money or social mobility in the U.S. to find ideal locations for a home. A lot of that depends on where you are employed and most people will ONLY be able to purchase real estate within a certain radius of where they work. This means for people working in major metropolitan cities they are screwed.
I can't say much about living in much cheaper regions of the country like the midwest or south but in my opinion the quality of life drops off significantly in places like that as well.
I own several investment properties in California, all of them were purchased at under $250,000 and in well developed suburbs. For Northern CA, look in areas outisde of Sacramento, like Rancho Cordova. For Southern CA, look along the I-15 from LA to SD. The 2007 subprime crash caused a huge dip in certain cities. I'm closing escrow on a 2005 town home this week that dropped 66% in value from 2005/2006. Very good bargain, but depleted my remaining severance funds. X_X If you're concerned about the commuting, one of my strategies is to buy near train station. Not as many people take trains to work but it helps in getting tenants and buyers.
Stay away from OC or areas along the 57 FWY for investment proeprties. I wasted several months trying to fight for properties in Santa Ana and lost to investors with bigger wallets. My GF tried to bid on several properties in Chino/Chino Hills, we saw a really nice 4 bed house for $310k asking, she submitted a bid at asking with 30% down and was told by seller agent that unless if she bids 340k all cash or better, don't bother. It's just too competitive with all the wealthy investors from Diamond Bar.
Real estate prices go up and down in cycles, and 2009 has been a good year to buy. Next year we'll have another wave of foreclosures and might be good time to buy, if interest rate stays low. I've been through the cycles before in CA and willing to risk waiting for the next up cycle. If you don't have a lot of $$ and am willing to take a risk, Las Vegas as a HUGE inventory of cheap condos on the market. I did a MLS search for under $50k and got >300 pages.
They say that the only certin things in life are death and taxes, but after learning real estate, I had a real eye opener on all the tax deductions. Some of the rules are nuts, like you can write off seller paid mortgage points. What?? Someone else paid the tab and you can use it as a tax deduction?!
Last edited by momopi on December 10th, 2009, 9:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Interesting, has the future proposed highspeed rail line effected your real estate shopping? It seems like it would be a pretty good investment opportunity to buy a home somewhat close to a proposed station if that ever gets off the ground. I think a high speed line could consolidate CA economically and socially in ways we would never imagine.
Heh, it's a small world. My parents live very close to one of the cities you mentioned and I have been tracking the house prices around their neighborhood for awhile on zillow and random real estate listing. The real estate drop in the last year and a half didn't really effect them nearly to the great extent as the surrounding areas. So from your experience in Chino Hills would you say the wealthier cities like diamond bar, Walnut, Rowland heights etc..) are recovering fairly fast? I know that Chino Hills is sort of the "last stop" city before it turns into crap like Rancho Cucumunga, Pomona, etc..
@_@ You are very informed!
There are several proposals that may give a big boost to the Temecula/Murrieta area. Besides the high speed rail, there's the possible airport expansion in Murrieta (French Valley Airport) and Downtown Temecula development plans. All of them are tenative and I'm crossing my fingers.
My RE agent's Church was unable to obtain an expansion in Murrieta because of the possible airport expansion and land use, so I'm thinking there's a good chance that it'd happen. There's a big community across the street from French Valley Airport with lots of inexpensive new construction, but don't buy there because the HOA has a very high default rate right now (plus possible future airport noise).
I do buy property within reasonable distance to train stations. My condos in Irvine are within short driving distance to the Barranca station, and the condo in Placentia (sold) is near the Anaheim Canyon Station.
Have you ever taken the subway in LA? There's a station along the red line that exits right by Thai Town. Eat at Ord Noodle ($3 noodles!):
Neighborhoods like Diamond Bar, Rowland Heights, Chino Hills, etc. are difficult to make cash flow because of all of the competition from Asian buyers. Diamond Bar is very desirable because of the school district. Cities in Southern CA goes through drastic demographic changes, so from an investor's point of view, you might want to just buy and exit with each RE cycle (~10 years) and not hold for too long. 1998 and 2009 are good years to buy, and 2005 was a good year to sell. Maybe it'd be a good time to sell in 2016-2020.
There are good places to buy in Rancho and Pomona, but you have to be very careful. There are places in Pomona with very nice suburban homes populated by Cal Poly employees. Follow Diamond Bar Blvd to Madison in Pomona and have a look around. Also, if you're a big meat eater, check Pomona Food Locker at 240 Oak. They sell pre-seasoned prime rib and vaccum seal it for you. You can also order whole pig and get exotic stuff like rabbit.
If you or your family buy any fixer upper property and need work done, I have a crew! ^_^ They can rip bathrooms out within an hour, or install/remove illegal additions in your garage by request. xD
Awesome information. I'm glad to see someone really knowledgeable in real estate on here it's something that i've been interested in for a long time now but sort of postponed as I started living abroad. I could tell you all about the Thai condo market though . Since the subprime debacle I have been entertaining the idea of buying some property back in the U.S. though. Quick question out of curiosity..how accurate are the estimates from sites such as zillow?
Also, what books/sources do you recommend on getting started in real estate investing?
Zillow estimates are out of whack. For CA real estate, I highly recommend using Redfin.com. When you're looking at property details, scroll down and look at the sale history, price trends, nearby propeties, and similar property sale reports. You'd get a far better picture of what's going on.
When you do a search for properties and get a list on the bottom, sort by days on the market, or simply exclude short sales from search parameters. Short sales take forever and is very very difficult to get.
Robert Kyosaki's "rich dad poor dad" is a great book to get you into the mentality of cash flow properties. However, the rest of his business empire is 80% scam, so avoid like the plague. I also recommend talking to your accountant, who knows your financial situation and can give you some tax advice on investment properties. This is very important because it's difficult to make good cash flow without all the tax deductions.
If you live in a condo, the HOA fees cannot be used for tax deduction. But if it's a rental/income property, all or part of it may be deductible. The property's "improvements" (structure) can be depreciated at 27.5 year schedule. Any expenses related to the propety may be eligible for deduction. If you had to drive out to look at it, you can deduct 50 cents per mile. I'm not a tax professional so you should consult with your accountant. It's also important to record every expense related to the investment property. Your accountant cannot write-off an expense unless if you show it to him/her. If you need an accountant, try Casey K. Tung CPA in Temple City/El Monte.
If you need an agent, for LA County & North Riverside County, I recommend David Yi @ Akita Realty. For South Riverside County I recommend Lorin Phipps at Phipps Realty. Both also do property management. For Orange County I recommend Shevy Akason at Evergreen Realty, and property management by Donna Shelton at Aladdin Property Management. Since banks are tightwads with lending these days, it's pointless to recommend mortgage brokers.
I also know an agent in Vegas who works for $2500 flat fee on <$50k properties, and someone in his office does property management. I don't own property in Vegas however, my friends do. I know Southern CA very well so I buy here and not Las Vegas. If you have a fat 401k/IRA account and want to do self-directed IRA investment in RE with all cash (you cannot get a mortgage for this), I know another accontant who can set up the LLC and manage the custodian account cheap. If you use "name brand" custodians (i.e. Entrust) and professional estate planning lawyers, the fees could run up to $10k. I'm too cheap to pay that much.
I'm very curious about the Thai condo market. I spent some time studying the condo market in KL Malaysia, Makati PH, and Tianjin PRC, but didn't end up investing there.