experts: real estate column Tuesday, January 21, 2003

It's never too soon to invest in property

It isn't rocket science: Your home's your best investment

By Ozzie Jurock

This article appeared in The Vancouver Sun on January 18, 2003

Everybody discovers real estate their own way. Some find it early and some find it late. The lucky ones are those who discover it early. The unlucky ones are the ones who discover it late.

One of the Universal Truths about real estate is that you can't find it too early and you can't find it too late!

Ok, it is January 18, 2003 and you are tired of the oft re-hashed question in the last two weeks: “Did you make resolutions and are you keeping them?" Or worse, "6 ideas on how to keep your resolutions ... Loser.” So, I won’t bother asking you whether you resolved this year to actually get into action and do something for you and yours ... to create that ‘unearned income’ stream.

Because resolutions on January 1 or not, we can make a change any day we wish. ANY day of the week we can get into action. We can also do nothing. We can stay as we are. The choice is ours. And not to decide to do something is also a decision ...

So, whatever your resolution was last year or this year ... and whatever you did or did not do ... so be it. Yesterday’s dreams are your today’s reality ... and tomorrow’s reality will be based on today’s dreams. But if you have that nagging real estate investment dream ... if you are seeing your retirement dollars going down the mutual fund drain ... or if you are just starting out ... the time is always now ...

In a perfect world they would start teaching about real estate at the same time they started teaching driver training. One of the reasons that this is such an important topic to be taught is that the likelihood of a youngster figuring it out for themselves is close to zero.

The problem being that youngsters have the idea that they are going to live forever. It usually takes a marriage, a mortgage and a couple of kids before the idea sinks in that maybe the timeline is not infinitely long. There are, of course, exceptions. They tell the story that when Rothschild the Elder was a schoolboy he suddenly stood up in the middle of a mathematics class and headed for the door. "Rothschild!” the teacher exclaimed, "Where are you going?" His answer was, "Well, you've just taught us the theory of compound interest. If the same principle applies to rental property with the tenants paying off the mortgage, then I better get out there and acquire some real estate!"

This is one of those stories where even if it never happened - it should have. And this is a topic on which you are always preaching to the unconverted. To those who know about the wealth building power of well selected, well purchased and then well managed properties no explanation is necessary. But if that awareness isn't there, then no explanation is possible until the individual doing the learning has been provided with a frame of reference.

They tell the story of a man who at the age of 55 was presented with the opportunity to make a certain investment that would take 10 years to mature. His response was that he didn't want to make the investment because in 10 years he would be 65 years old. The person showing him the investment asked him, "If you don't make the investment - How old are you going to be in 10 years?"

The lesson here is that the time goes by anyway. Every day is another step along the path - but at the same time, every day is a new beginning. Retirement planning is one of those subjects where philosophy and finance meet at a crossroads. The problem is that you are always changing and your objectives are always changing along with you. To a 16 year old a Harley Davidson seems like a perfectly sensible investment. 60 years later that very same person is so conservative, he doesn't even want to buy green bananas - all a matter of perspective. It all starts with how your attitudes were shaped.

Most of us get put into certain molds of thinking when we're young and if those molds are counter productive or if they become counter productive as we go down life's path then we have to break out of those molds if we're going to achieve optimum results. If you have babies, toddlers, teens, or young adults, make sure you point their feet along the right path - that is, the path to an affluent retirement. This will turn out to be more valuable to them then any inheritance you can leave them.

Unfortunately, very few of us get taught early enough. Most of us stumble into the real estate investment world by accident. We buy a home to live in and after the passage of time we take a look at our situation and we see that our pension plan doesn't look as rosy as it did at the beginning, our stocks, bonds and mutual funds have not performed anywhere near where we were told they would.

Our saving accounts have a total of $34.00 because there was always some emergency that emptied them out. However, there is this item of the family home that has appreciated in value and the mortgage is reduced considerably and this one asset has outperformed all the others put together.

Now this isn't rocket science. Anyone who can look at two numbers and know which one is bigger can draw the right conclusion. Then it doesn't take that much of a mental leap to realize that the same principle can apply to investment real estate and when that moment of enlightenment comes you are on your way to that financial freedom that you've been hearing about all your life.

The Ozzie Jurock 'Real Estate Action Group' 2003 starts in January. For information on you can participate call 604-683-3870.

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