Stupid Investor Tricks

 

investor tricks

Let’s take a look at some investor tricks.

Not stupid, simple tricks. Not the kind of tricks that earn you $100k overnight Spoiler alert. Get-rich-quick schemes are rarely more than just that … schemes.

No, these are investor tricks that went way, way wrong.

Today, we hope you learn from the lessons of others and spare yourself the pain of making mistakes you could easily prevent.

In the words of Franklin P. Jones, “Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.”

In today’s special edition of The Real Estate Guys™ show you’ll hear from:

  • Your wise(?) host, Robert Helms
  • His wise-cracker co-host, Russell Gray
  • The godfather of real estate and seven-decade investor, Bob Helms

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Trick #1: Terrorizing your tenants

Enterprising entrepreneurs look for workarounds. When life hands them an obstacle, they look for a way to work around it.

Some workarounds are smart investor tricks that actually work.

And some workarounds are really stupid investor tricks.

For example, see the story of these two landlords in Brooklyn, NY. To get tenants out of a rent-controlled building, they resorted to illegal tactics: not providing heat or electricity, enticing drug dealers to the building, even running dogs through the hallways.

Good workaround? DEFINITELY not.

You don’t want to be someone who resorts to those kind of tactless tactics.

Rent control can be a tricky situation. It gives owners a perverse incentive not to maintain the property.

But there ARE things you can do—legally.

First of all, think long and hard about your decision to own a rent-controlled building in the first place.

Understand that everyone in a transaction will have a short-term view except you. The loan broker, real estate agent, and seller only care about what happens in the short term. YOU’RE the one left holding the bag.

Don’t be naïve about what you’re getting. Do your homework. Verify tenants and make sure they’ve been at the location for longer than a month and have been paying their rents.

And before you make the final decision, check the rules of your location—can you raise rent a certain percentage each year, or are you stuck at one rate?

Property managers in the area will be your best friend. They know all the rules and regulations and can tell you what the real inventory of a property is.

If you do own a rent-controlled property, think in the long term.

Maybe you can move slowly, making improvements and raising rents as tenants move.

Maybe you can make improvements that’ll save you money in the long run and make your building more enticing when you look to sell it—like changing the plumbing system.

Whatever you do, avoid these stupid investor mistakes:

  • Not doing your homework before buying.
  • Holding a short-term view.
  • Doing anything that could come back and bite your reputation—like pushing tenants out illegally.

Trick #2: Coloring outside the lines

We want to touch on a serious subject here: the warehouse fire in Oakland, CA, which claimed the lives of 36 young people.

Our hearts go out to the victims and their families.

We want to examine the responsibility of the landlord and owner in this situation.

The building where the fire occurred was designed to be a warehouse. It was leased by the owner to a single tenant, who then created individual living and artist spaces.

However, the building did not have the proper code, plumbing, electricity, or safety protocols (like an adequate amount of properly marked and cleared exit doors) for human occupancy or high-occupancy events.

In high-rent marketplaces, creative folks often figure out ways to find lesser accommodations for less money.

We are certain that there are many buildings in high-rent markets that are similarly creative—in this case, extremely dangerous.

“At the end of the day,” says Russell, “the owner has a high degree of responsibility to know what’s going on at their property.”

If you own a building, be aware of what’s going on. Inspect regularly—whether you go or you send a trusted employee.

Take time to understand the local code and keep your building up to date.

If you feel like giving in to a good tenant who pays on time and wants to create a similar artist space, think first.

Think about your legal liabilities in the case of an accident.

Think about the weight on your conscience if people lost their lives.

Think about all the possibilities instead of hanging on to low probabilities.

In both stories we’ve shared so far, landlords and tenants encountered a market problem. We emphasize that there are better, more creative ways to solve this kind of problem.

That doesn’t mean you have to quench your creativity. But coloring outside of the lines sometimes just creates a big mess.

There are paths and procedures to get where you need to go.

“When you bend the rules creatively to come up with a solution, there’s often fallout,” Bob reminds us.

Don’t throw up your hands. Take responsibility. And color inside the lines.

Stupid investor tricks:

  • Putting your property on autopilot and hoping everything will be okay.
  • Coloring willfully outside of the lines—that is, not following code and safety regulations in your quest for a creative solution.

Trick #3: Mistaking cheap for prudent

On our Halloween horror stories show a while back, we told a true horror story of a careless buyer.

The buyer was a realtor who thought he knew what he was doing. He figured he had plenty of expertise. So he skipped getting an inspection when he bought a four-plex for a killer price.

Six months later, he’d made some improvements, the market was doing great, so he put the four-plex on the market sell. The (smart) new buyer got a home inspection.

Turns out, there were some problems. BIG problems: the building literally didn’t have a foundation.

The buyer sold, finally, at a tremendous loss.

We’ve heard this story over and over. Buyers think they’re being prudent and saving some cash, but end up throwing their hard-earned money away.

If you are buying a property, do your due diligence.

If it’s a no-go, have you wasted your money on an inspection? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Think of inspections as insurance. Insurance costs you a little while things are going well, but saves you a LOT if something ever goes horribly wrong.

As Bob says, “The most successful investors are the most educated investors.”

Don’t take shortcuts. Use a reputable broker. Find a good lawyer. Get a certified inspector.

This doesn’t mean you can’t save money and do things better. Learn to use your lawyer efficiently. Actually walk through WITH the inspector and see first-hand what changes can be made.

Here’s the stupid investor tricks you SHOULDN’T follow:

  • Not doing due diligence before making a big investment.
  • Mistaking cheap for prudent.
  • Failing to learn from others’ mistakes.

Trick #4: Failing to major in the minors

One of the most important skills you can learn as a real estate investor is how to differentiate between major and minor issues.

When you’re sitting down with a buyer, you have the right to bring up every issue you see with a property.

That doesn’t mean you should.

Here’s the question you need to ask yourself, says Robert: “If the seller says no, are you willing to walk away from the deal?”

Is bringing up a chipped $1.29 switch plate that you could replace yourself worth abandoning a potential purchase?

Choose your battles wisely.

And when you’re buying a property, realize that even in this do-it-yourself world, you’re working in a highly regulated industry.

Do the research. Get advice and legal help.

Listen to your attorneys and advisors, but realize: they DON’T give business advice.

They will give you technical advice. You have to make a risk versus reward assessment.

Business decisions—deciding what risks and tradeoffs you’re willing to take—is YOUR job.

You are the one who cuts through all the chatter.

Stupid investor tricks:

  • Majoring in the minors and neglecting what’s most important
  • Leaving business decisions to others

Trick #5: Making decisions in a vacuum

As The Real Estate Guys™, we ALWAYS encourage you to educate yourself.

Part of educating yourself includes surrounding yourself with smart mentors.

Listen to this brief tale of two investors.

One investor found a market he liked, LOVED the idea of leverage, but chose to invest in a market with zero appreciation.

His strategy wasn’t wrong. The market wasn’t bad. But his strategy and the market he chose didn’t match.

He didn’t do the math, didn’t look at his exit strategy, didn’t run his decision through with someone wiser before purchasing.

He trapped himself.

Our second investor went on some field trips with us and fell in love with a particular market. This market was a strong market, with great performance.

So the guy had a brilliant idea: buy a house, rent it out, use it for vacations once a year, and then use it as a retirement home in 15 years.

At least he thought it was brilliant.

We helped him see that one property was very unlikely to fill all his needs.

We encourage you to bounce ideas off those who are more experienced than you.

Don’t get trapped in your own circular thinking. Get a reality check.

Build a team. Form a circle of advisors.

Lay out your outcome, what you’re thinking of doing, and what you have to work with.

THEN, bounce it off creative, experienced, smart people! It may be there’s more than one solution.

Stupid investor trick:

  • Thinking you don’t need help from ANYONE ELSE

Tune in to The Real Estate Radio Guys™ next week to learn more about finding your tribe.

Go out and make some equity happen. (Without stupid tricks!)


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The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training and resources to help real estate investors succeed.