va loan investing no money down

The Complete Guide to Investing with VA Loans

Welcome to the Rich on Money Complete Guide to VA Loan Investing!

There are many things you can do with the VA loan benefit.

But can you invest with it?

Kind of, sort of.

The VA doesn’t say you can, but if you understand the rules, and buy properties as you move from assignment to assignment in the military, it is possible.

You can’t just buy a home and make it a rental property without living in it first.  There is an occupancy rule I’ll be discussing.

You can, however, buy a house at your current assignment using your VA benefit, live in it for a short period of time, turn it into a rental property when you leave, and buy a house at your next assignment with a VA loan repeating the entire process.

Another possibility for investing is buying a 2, 3, or 4-plex using your VA benefit and living in one of the units  for a short period of time.  When you move on to your next assignment, you’ll be able to turn the entire property into an investment legally.

Let’s start digging into the details!

The first thing we need to understand is the occupancy rule.

Occupancy Rule

Read More

Real Estate Mistakes Military Members Should Avoid

real estate military members mistakes

Being in the military presents unique challenges.  We are burdened with moving every one to three years throughout our careers.  While moving that often can be exciting, it can wreak havoc on our finances.

While I think most people make mistakes with real estate, those mistakes are magnified in the military because of frequent moves, especially when sent overseas.

Today I address the two biggest mistakes I see military members make with real estate.  First, buying in high cost of living areas.  Next, buying a home at each duty station.  Both bad ideas.

Let’s take them one at a time.

Buying in a High Cost of Living Area

I just ran into this issue a few days ago.  Somebody told me they were moving to Hawaii and everybody told them they have to buy because the prices of houses just keep going up!   They usually say things like, “you can’t lose!”

I told them, don’t buy!  Whatever you do, don’t buy in Hawaii!!

Why would I say that?  Don’t I want everyone to be Rich on Money?

They sighed and remarked that I was the first person to tell them they shouldn’t buy in Hawaii.

Clearly, I don’t know what I’m talking about.

There are two problems with buying in high cost of living (HCOL) areas.  One is the appreciation myth, and the next is cash flow.

The Appreciation Myth

There is a wide-spread belief if you buy in a HCOL area, you can’t lose because you’ll get massive appreciation, and even if your rent doesn’t cover the mortgage, (which is likely) you’ll still come out ahead.

Here’s the problem with that thinking.  Appreciation is a fickle thing.  In HCOL areas, it sometimes comes in spectacular fashion for a few years, and then disappears for several years.  Those spectacular years are what get people’s attention, but you never know what years that will happen, where it will happen, and how long it will last.

In the end, appreciation in HCOL cities usually ends up being only slightly better the appreciation in any other city in the U.S.  For instance, Honolulu may see a 4% appreciation per year on average over the long term compared to 3% for most cities.

I’ll give an example of the appreciation myth from my life.  I bought a townhouse in Washington D.C. for $280,000 in 2003.  Two years later it was worth $400,000.  I was ecstatic!  I could only imagine what it would be worth in ten more years!

I sold that house in 2016.  How much did I get for it?

$400,000.  All my growth (appreciation) happened the first two years, and then a net of no growth over the next eleven years.  This works out to less than 3% appreciation per year.

Not impressive.

You can’t count on appreciation when you buy in a HCOL area, especially in the military.  During the one to three years you are there, it could easily stay flat or even go down in value.  That would not be a good thing on a million dollar home!

Read my full article on The Appreciation Myth

Cash Flow

If you buy a property at an assignment and realize it didn’t appreciate much, you made need to rent it out instead of selling it.  Maybe your plan was keeping it as a rental anyway.

Rental properties in HCOL areas almost never work out!

Why?

Well, we know the first reason is because of the appreciation myth.  It’s also because the numbers don’t work!

Let’s talk about the 1% rule.  It’s the most basic and important rule in real estate investing.

The 1% Rule – A house should be able to rent for at least 1% of the acquisition price.  This is purchase price plus fixing it up.

Read More

appreciation pink house real estate

What You Didn’t Know About Appreciation in Real Estate

There are four ways to make money in real estate.  Cash flow, taxes, mortgage principle paydown, and appreciation.

Three of these four are often misunderstood in how effective they are.  Appreciation is one of those, and I’m focusing on that today.

Before I bash appreciation too much, here’s what the leverage lovers want me to explain first.

If you buy a house for $100,000 cash, and that house goes up by 4% in a year, the house is now worth $104,000 and you’ve made 4% on your money.  Not amazing.

However, if you buy a house with $20,000 down on a $100,000 house and it goes up 4% in a year, it is now worth $104,000.  You’ve made $4,000 on a $20,000 investment.  You’ve made 20% on your $20,000 investment. The mortgage magnifies the benefits of the appreciation.

That’s a benefit of appreciation with a mortgage.

Of course, if you mortgage a property and it goes down in value, remember, you still owe that monthly amount to the bank no matter how low the price of the house goes.  If the market crashes, you still got to pay that mortgage back at whatever price you originally borrowed for.

This was the big problem with the last real estate crash.  It’s called being upside down on a mortgage.

Borrower beware!

Here is something I hear people say a lot about appreciation that makes me cringe.

It goes something like this:

“Well, I know I’m not making any cash flow on this house, maybe even losing some money, but that’s ok, because I’m in this for the appreciation.”

WHOA!!!!

This attitude is especially common in high cost of living (HCOL) cities.  Why?

It’s really hard to get good cash flow in a HCOL city.  The price to rent ratios are way off.  There is also this belief that these cities are great for appreciation, and you can’t go wrong buying because they will go up enough in value to make it worth it, even without the cash flow.

I’m here to tell you, this is not always the case.

Read More

The 10 Cheapest Index Funds to Supercharge your Portfolio

index fund fees

Index Funds

Let’s have some index fund fun today.

Many in the Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) community  recommend VTSAX (Vanguard’s Total Stock Market Index) as the investment of choice.

Why is that?

It probably has something to do with the blog www.jlcollinsnh.com or the book The Simple Path to Wealth.

If you are in the Choose FI world, then you’ve heard of the Godfather of FI, Jim Collins.

You may know he is a huge fan of Vanguard as the mutual fund company of choice.

Why? 

Does it have the cheapest index fund fees?

Does it have the lowest investment minimums?

It turns out…

It does not.

Then why does he recommend it?

I’ll get to that…

One thing I did the first time I read The Simple Path to Wealth (I ended up reading it about 15 times as his editor on the book) was check all my current investments to find out if I was paying too much in fees.

I’ve always followed the simple advice of Warren Buffett.

Invest in index funds.

I don’t believe investors can or should try to beat the market.

Read More

Why Timing the Market is a Bad Idea

Here are the headlines that I saw when I googled “stock market” today:

 

“Is a global recession led by a US Stock Market crash in the offing?”

“Dow slides as US stock market suffers worst week in two years”

“Chart analysts see bigger market pullback if interest rates continue to shoot higher”

 

These headlines are going to affect everyone differently.  Let me share with you how it affects me.  Normally, I would never read it.  But today,

I laugh at it.

It’s useless information.

Let me give you a little background on me.

I worked for Fidelity Investments as a stock broker while I was in college before I joined the military.  I’m an avid finance nerd and real estate investor.

I’ve studied the markets long enough to know that index funds are the smartest way to invest your money.  Trying to beat the market is pointless.

I also know that a lot of what you see in the financial media space is useless information.  They try to predict where the market is going.  When they get it wrong, they try to explain logically why they got it wrong, which ends up being the perfect definition of hindsight bias.

Hindsight bias, also known as the knew-it-all-along effect or creeping determinism, is the inclination, after an event has occurred, to see the event as having been predictable, despite there having been little or no objective basis for predicting it.

Financial magazines, newsletters, cable programs, videos, it’s all meant to capitalize on either fear or greed.  A few weeks ago, it was greed.  The markets were kicking ass.

Read More

9 Debt Payoff Hacks that Work and 3 that Don’t

 

payoff debt pen

These are 9 debt payoff hacks that actually work.

I did some research before writing this post.  I’m always horrified whenever I realize the amount of advice at the top positions in google search results that is bad.  The subject of paying off debt is no exception to this rule.

More on that later.

Every blogger writes an obligatory post on how they cut corners to payoff debt.  This is my attempt at that.  This is an updated post.  Originally, this was my third blog post.  It’s now reformatted.

Another thing about this research I did.  The stuff that tends to hold a lot of the top positions is easy Band-Aid solutions to paying off debt that doesn’t involve actually solving your problem.

It’s usually a matter of taking out a new loan or opening up a new credit card to transfer debt from one location to another.  You might save money on interest, but you aren’t fixing your problem.

These are ways to payoff debt without earning any money.  All your doing is replacing old debt with new.

The debt is still there!

The debt payoff hacks I talk about actually work.  They involve lifestyle changes and changes in thinking that enable you to payoff the debt you owe.

Nothing else will work.

It’s just clickbait.

Any success I’ve had with paying off debt is 99% attributable to my wife. She is Chinese and grew up in Taiwan. She has no formal training in investments or finance. She has never read a personal finance book in her life. But she came from a family and, to a certain extent, a society that frowns on debt.

Read More

payoff mortgage fast

5 Surefire Ways to Payoff Your Mortgage Fast

“So you want to payoff your mortgage faster?”

I wish I had read this before paying off my mortgage!

 

Some banks or other financial institutions offer a mortgage accelerator program.  It’s usually some type of program that helps you payoff your mortgage faster.  The deal is, they charge you for this.  It could be anywhere from a few hundred bucks to several thousands dollars.

Do not use these programs.  They are a total rip-off.  You can use any of the methods below to payoff your mortgage faster without spending a penny.

Paying off your mortgage faster is something most homeowners consider at some point.  There are practical and psychological reasons for doing so.  We’ll hit the pros and cons after discussing the 5 top strategies to payoff your mortgage fast.

Make sure that your loan doesn’t have a prepayment penalty built in.  They are uncommon, but out there.  Be sure you understand how much it will cost and if it makes sense to pay this fee.

By the way, when you get a loan, make sure there isn’t a prepayment penalty!

In my case, I bought a townhouse in 2003 in Alexandria, Virginia for $280,000.  I put 10% down, financed 10% of the loan at a 7% interest rate, and then rest was a mortgage at 5.5% on a 30-year fixed rate loan.

While reading Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover book one day, I saw the section in there where he suggests paying off your mortgage after paying off debt and funding retirement accounts.

I thought, wow! That’s a crazy idea!

But the idea of paying if off intrigued me.  I liked the idea of having no debt!

I threw everything I could at that loan over the next six years and paid it off.

And I LOVE the feeling of it being gone.

Read More

5 Secrets to Finding the Best Property Manager

 

I will give you my 5 secrets to finding the perfect rental property management company.

Maybe you think you can manage the property yourself?

Perhaps.

But if you use my tips to find an outstanding management company, they’ll save you more money than the fee you’re paying them.

Think about that.  You’ll do less work, but save more money.

The perfect rental property management company earns their management fee and more. They do things better than you could if you did it yourself.

They have more experience:

  • Finding tenants
  • Dealing with dead-beat tenants
  • Collecting late rent
  • Doing evictions
  • Finding fair prices and getting discounts from contractors
  • Knowing what repairs are necessary (and unnecessary) for rentals
  • Knowing which locations are best for rentals
  • Pricing rentals
  • And much, much more…

To reiterate, these companies end up being worth far more than their fees just through their contacts, expertise, and understanding of the rental market.

Again, this is only true if you find the right management company.  There are also plenty of bad ones that will cost more money and be as much work as doing it yourself.

That’s where following these tips come in!

Read More

Should You Go to the Military Influencer Conference Next Year?

For the past two years, I’ve attended FINCON.  It’s a conference with about 2000+ attendees geared at financial media.  I’m an active duty airmen who has a small real estate blog, so Curtez Riggs suggested I attend the first Military Influencer Conference taking place at the same location as FINCON a few days before it begins.

Two for one!

It was hard to know how this new conference would turn out, being in it’s first year and all.  Lots of things were up in the air.

  • Would it have enough attendees?
  • Would it attract big enough talent? (speakers)
  • Big enough money? (sponsors)
  • Networking opportunities?
  • Well organized?

I’m happy to report, Hell yes on all fronts!!!

The conference was a massive success and everyone that attended had glowing reviews. Everything was amazing.   Here are some of the things that stuck out to me:

It started off with a keynote by Emily Cavness, CEO of Sword & Plough.  She came up with an idea for making bags and other things out of military surplus items just as she was coming into the army.  It’s became a massively successful business and her insights and story was amazing!

Read More

Investor Profile of Rich on Money

Chad Carson of www.coachcarson.com did a profile piece of me on his website.

Chad has become a friend, and he is one of the best real estate bloggers out there.  He’s got something like 90 properties in a small college town.  He has reached financial independence, and is currently living in Ecuador with his wife and kids.

Read his piece on me at his website.

Page 1 of 4

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén