Foreign investors have been gobbling up U.S. real estate ever since it went “on sale” in 2009. And the pace could increase substantially this year, now that a heavy tax on foreign investment has been lifted.
As Americans worry about stock market volatility and housing bubbles, international investors are pumping more money into the U.S.
According to research firm Real Capital Analytics, the purchase of U.S. real estate by foreign buyers skyrocketed to $87.3 billion dollars last year. Compare that to just $5 billion in 2009.
And demand is not slowing down. In a poll by the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate, also known as AFIRE, 64% of those polled say they plan to make modest or "major" increases to their U.S. portfolios this year. Another 31% plan to maintain the investments they already have. And, no one said they were planning a major decrease in their U.S. real estate holdings.
To put this survey into perspective, AFIRE says it has about 200 members from 21 countries, with about $2 trillion dollars in assets. So take into account, this survey comes from a small pool of members with a very large amount of capital to deploy.
AFIRE’s wealthy members consider the U.S. the best country for capital appreciation and for stability. They said they are mostly interested in apartment buildings and commercial properties. Single-family rentals were "not" on their radar.
In a recent press release, AFIRE’s CEO said - quote - "The investment opportunity is in the United States, itself. The real estate fundamentals are sound.”
He also said, "There are opportunities across all sectors of the real estate spectrum and in both gateway and secondary cities."
New York City was the #1 choice for foreign investments worldwide.
Los Angeles came in 2nd and San Francisco 3rd.
The secondary cities that top the list for foreign buyers looking to buy real estate include Washington, D.C., Seattle and Boston.
And even though foreign investment in the U.S. has soared from just $5 billion just 6 years ago to over $87 billion last year, the U.S. could become even more desirable for foreign investors.
A new law signed by President Obama will ease a 35-year-old tax on foreign investment in U.S. real estate, which is expected to open the floodgates for more purchases by overseas investors.
This new measure was part of the $1.1 trillion spending measure passed in December in order to prevent a government shutdown. Basically, the new legislation waives a tax imposed on foreign pension funds under the 1980 Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act, known as FIRPTA.
That tax is triggered upon the sale of a U.S. real property interest. It's similar to a capital gains tax but it applies to foreign pension funds. Under this new measure, foreign pension funds will now have the same tax treatment as their U.S. counterparts for real estate investments.
It's a substantial tax savings. The FIRPTA tax could be as high as 35% or more in some cases. At the time of sale, the seller was required to withhold 10 percent of the purchase price for tax purposes. The buyer would then be responsible for paying any tax due, upon the filing of income tax.
What this did is make the purchase of U.S. real estate unattractive for trillions of dollars worth of foreign pension investments. The tax-law modification could now be a game changer, resulting in billions, even trillions of new capital flowing into U.S. real estate.
Most likely, that capital will flow to commercial property, in this order, according to recent demand:
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Drug dealers trying to stash their cash into real estate are going to have a tougher time.
The Treasury Department announced it will begin tracking luxury real estate transactions purchased by anonymous buyers with all-cash.
The initiative is meant to prevent money laundering by shell companies that purchase high-end real estate without revealing the name(s) of the true buyers. The New York Times would like to take credit for the government’s crackdown. They say it was inspired by its own investigative reporting efforts last year that exposed the use of shell companies by foreign buyers who are creating safe havens for their money in the U.S.
Title companies will be responsible for participating in the truth-telling. They will be required to provide copies of driver's licenses and passports, and give the names of the individuals to the Treasury Department.
This is the first time the federal government is requiring this kind of disclosure. Initially, the focus will be on New York City and Miami, two cities known for attracting global investors.
Federal investigators will put the information into a database for law enforcement officials to access.
How long will it take before this law trickles down to regular buyers - like you and me?
Property Worth $1B+ in New York City
Speaking of big money transactions: Property values in New York City are skyrocketing. The Real Deal reports that 15 New York City properties are now worth more than $1 billion dollars each.
And, they say these values may pale in comparison to their true market values. They are set by the city and are thought to represent as little as half of the amount they would sell for. Plus the assessments are based on income and expense figures submitted in 2014, so the city's valuations may be lagging.
The total value of New York City property: more than one trillion dollars.
Let’s hope no tsunami’s hit that island.
And that's a warning.
Don’t put all your eggs in one island. If you own high priced property in San Francisco or New York City - consider how much of your net worth is tied to those properties. And if it’s a disproportionate amount, perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at possible options and protective measures for your real estate portfolio.
One tsunami or earthquake could wipe out your property in a matter of moments. Insurance for those kinds of natural disasters is expensive and often doesn’t cover the entire loss.
I met with an elderly couple once, who came to me for help. They owned a home in Berkeley, CA worth approximately $1M, and they owned it free and clear. But, they were completely cash poor. They could barely pay the taxes or insurance on the property, let alone maintenance. They rented out the basement which provided some income, but otherwise only had about $50,000 in retirement funds, which wouldn’t last long.
They came to me to see if I could get them an equity line or reverse mortgage.
I asked them if they had earthquake insurance and they did not. They could barely afford basic hazard insurance.
I asked them if they'd consider selling their home, investing the money and renting or moving to a more affordable place. They said they were too attached to their home and did not want to sell.
My advice to them was to put aside sentimentality and make wiser decisions that would offer safety and stability in their golden years.
I advised them to sell the property and diversify. $500,000 of the capital gain would be tax free because it was their primary residence. The other half had been rented and could be exchanged into rental property.
They could move just outside the San Francisco Bay Area where homes could be purchased for $200-$300,000. That would leave them with $700,000 to buy investment property with a 10% return - which would be about $70,000 annual net income.
Is the U.S. housing market headed for another subprime mortgage fiasco? Opponents of Obama’s new HomeReady mortgage program think so.
I’m Kathy Fettke and this is Real Estate News for Investors.
The Obama administration announced a new government-backed mortgage program called HomeReady, that assists low-income borrowers in purchasing a home.
HomeReady is a FannieMae loan - which means it’s insured by the US government - and basically replaces the subprime program that some say triggered the mortgage meltdown in 2008. But, this time, scratch the word “subprime”. HomeReady is being called an "alternative mortgage program".
The guidelines allow lenders to include the earnings of the primary borrower along with other wage earners in the household.
Having more than one borrower on a loan is not a new concept. However, what’s new with the HomeReady program is that even relatives who don't live in the same home can participate in the loan application.
Borrowers also don't need stellar credit scores. They can qualify with a 620 FICO score, which is considered "subprime". And the down payment can be as low as 3 percent.
Borrowers need to get enough wage earners in their borrowing pools to meet a 45% debt-to-earnings ratio. And this program is not just for first time homebuyers. Repeat buyers can also qualify with just 3% down.
Income from non-occupant borrowers, such as parents, is allowed and rental income from renting out a room or basement apartment can also be included to augment the borrower’s qualifying income.
Proponents say the benefits out weigh the risks and are praising the program as a way for minorities to get into home ownership. According to the Investor's Business Daily, the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals says it recognizes the living situations of many Hispanics and other minorities, who have several working individuals living in one household.
Borrowers will be required to complete an online education course to prepare themselves for home ownership.
What are my thoughts on this and how does it affect real estate investors?
Read more at www.NewsForInvestors.com
The Bank of Japan announced this month that it will cut rates to minus 0.1% and mentioned that it will push rates even lower if needed.
What in the world does this mean to Japan, the U.S. economy and you, the investor?
The Bank of Japan is the country's central bank, with similar powers as the Federal Reserve in the U.S. We are accustomed to hearing of central banks hiking rates in order to slow a booming economy, but lowering rates into negative territory? Now that is rare... but unfortunately, not so rare today.
Negative rates are set by central banks in order to encourage commercial banks to lend more because they would be charged to keep money within the bank.
Negative rates also encourage consumers to spend rather than save, because it costs them to have money in the bank as well. They do not earn interest for saving, they PAY it.
It’s basically the opposite of what we know as “normal" banking. Banks can end up paying customers who borrow from them! Negative rates can also weaken the country's currency, which helps increase exports and can boost the economy.
Central banks raise rates to slow down a booming economy, curb inflation and stop asset bubbles from growing out of control. So when they lower rates, they are trying to boost a slowing economy and create inflation.
Negative interest rates are simply another form of stimulus - but more of a last ditch effort for desperate economies trying to fight deflation. Most people understand inflation, but they don’t realize a government’s greatest fear is the opposite. Deflation.
Inflation is defined as when the prices of goods and services increase, or inflate. Deflation is when the prices of goods and services decrease - or deflate.
While ups and downs are normal in a free market, when inflation or deflation happens at a rapid pace, it can be devastating to an economy: i.e. the bursting of an asset bubble or hyper-inflation.
At first glance, deflation would appear to be good for consumers because they get to pay less for goods and services. Who’s at the pump complaining that gas is cheaper? And who was bummed out they bought property in 2009 at the bottom of the market?
In fact, deflation is a normal by-product of a healthy economy - contrary to what most people think. In a free market, competition is king. Companies competing for business will lower their prices, while improving quality. All others go out of business.
Inflation, on the other hand, is a by-product of fake stimulus - not free market economics. Inflation was never really an issue in the U.S. until Nixon took us off the gold standard back in 1971. The money supply no longer needed to be tied to gold, so central banks could print as much money as politicians needed to keep their unrealistic promises.
This kind of engineered monetary stimulus creates asset bubbles that eventually get so big they have no choice but to pop - creating massive waves of price increases (inflation) and then even larger price declines (deflation) as those bubbles pop.
We know the real estate bubble of the mid-2000’s was created from the manufactured stimulus of easy credit. The popping of that bubble created a worldwide financial meltdown.
How did the government fix it? More stimulus.
Instead of easy loans to consumers, the Fed made borrowing cheaper - by lowering interest rates to near zero levels for 10 years! Banks and corporations could borrow money for almost nothing. Corporations were able to borrow money to buy their own stock, driving values up way past earnings levels.
Sounds illegal doesn’t it? Apparently it’s not. Our own government did it - with another stimulus in the form of bond buying. The government was buying it’s own debt!
But that wasn’t enough, the government also issued 3 rounds of quantitative easing for an an unprecedented amount of $4 trillion.
Rents rose last year at their fastest pace since before the 2008 housing crisis. And even while some markets are starting to cool off, overall demand is growing, which will push rents in areas with the greatest demand.
One of the latest reports is from real-estate researcher Axiometrics, showing that rents rose 4.7 percent in 2015. That’s on average. Some metros, like Fort Meyer’s and Sarasota in Florida; Sacramento, San Francisco and LA in California saw double digit increases.
According to the Wall Street Journal, rents have risen steadily over the last six consecutive years while the homeownership rate is near a 30-year low right now, at just over 63%.
What’s going on? Home prices are low, interest rates are at all time lows and affordability is at it’s best in 97% of markets. Outside of a handful of expensive metro areas, it’s still much cheaper to own a home than rent in most of the country.
Why are more people choosing to rent than to own, even when owning might be cheaper?
First, even though interest rates are low, making a house payment very affordable, banks look at overall debt. A borrower should not have more than 43% consumer debt.
Let’s say someone earns $3000/month and pays $800 in rent. If they could purchase the home they live in, the mortgage might be $500/month. They could save $300 per month by being an owner, not a renter.
BUT, if they had a car payment for $200/month, credit card debt at $400 per month and a student loan payment of $400/month, their consumer debt would be $1000/month.
Add the $1000/month in consumer debt with the $500/month mortgage payment, that’s $1500. Since their income is $3000/month, their debt to income ratio would be 50% - too high to qualify for a loan.
Additionally, banks are terrified of buy-backs, so they are giving a preference to borrowers with high credit scores.
And of course, demographics play a part as well. The largest generation today, the Millennial population, ages 18-34, are saddled with student loan debt and are having a hard time finding employment. Plus, they like downtown living where renting tends to be more affordable than owning.
But it’s not just the Millennials who prefer to rent at this time. According to a recent Harvard study, researchers say the demand for rental housing has grown the fastest for renters with the highest incomes and for Baby Boomers, or those folks age 50 and over. In fact, demand among high income earners grew at a whopping rate of 61 percent from 2005 to 2015!
During that same time, the number of Boomers who became renters, grew 50 percent, from 10 million to 15 million. But the experts also say that demand has been broad-based, with renters coming from all income levels, age levels and ethnicities.
All this demand for rentals is driving leases up. And like anything, there’s a positive and a negative depending on which side of the fence you stand.
Renters face higher housing costs and therefore less cash flow, while landlords receive higher rents and therefore a higher monthly cashflow.
Landlords were also on the grassier side of the fence during the mortgage meltdown. When over 5 million homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure, they became renters. With so much demand for rentals, rents slowly increased during the recession, even while housing prices bottomed.
READ MORE HERE
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Using a checkbook LLC for your self-directed IRA is a strategy adopted by the savviest of real estate investors, but there’s one tiny problem with it. It may not be legal.
The ability to self-direct your retirement funds into alternative assets like real estate has been legal since 1974. Yet even today, the majority of IRA and 401K owners don’t know about self-direction. They believe they have to borrow from their IRA to buy real estate, or that they would be penalized for using those funds to invest in real estate.
Traditional financial planners consider self-direction as giving the investor the choice of stocks, bonds or mutual funds in which they wish to invest. That’s because traditional brokerages and banks only sell what’s authorized within their investment firms - which are stocks, bonds or mutual funds.
However, a truly self-directed IRA gives the investor complete control over their investment choices, including the ability to invest outside of the stock market and into alternative investments like real estate, gold, trust deeds and private placements.
But true self-direction is not for the hands-off investor. There are specific rules you must follow or you could end up committing a prohibited transaction. If you do that, your IRA could be seriously penalized and even potentially wiped out.
And there are plenty of prohibited transactions on Uncle Sam's list, so you should be well aware of what you can and can't do.
For example, if you direct your IRA to buy real estate, it must be for investment purposes only and not ever for personal use. If your IRA invested in a vacation home, neither you nor your family could use it personally.
You also can't pay yourself for managing it. In fact, you can’t manage it at all. The investment should be totally passive and managed by a professional.
And here's what could be the trickiest rule... you cannot even provide "unpaid" services to a property inside a self-directed IRA account. If you do, you could end up owing taxes and distribution fees, involving that real estate transaction.
Let's say you bought a single-family home with your self-directed IRA and the tenant calls about a problem with the heater. You don't live far away and it's an easy problem to fix, so you go over and do it yourself.
THAT violates the rule because you are providing direct services to your IRA investment. The result could be a big tax bill on what is now considered a distribution.
Instead, you have to ask the trustee of your self-directed IRA to hire a handyman to go fix that problem. And then you have to pay the handyman AND the trustee for those services.
The easiest way to avoid breaking the rules is to work with a very good custodian, trustee or administrator who can guide you and handle all the paperwork for you.
But… some investors want to avoid the fees they would have to pay a custodian or administrator. Plus, they want to be able to move quickly and not wait for a third party to approve their purchases or investments.
So they opt for a check book LLC that manages their self-directed IRA and acts as the trustee.
The problem with this scenario is that often the IRA owner is also the manager of the LLC.
As the manager of the LLC, you can write checks yourself and pay that handyman.
But hold on!
You are still the owner of the self-directed IRA and within that IRA, you are breaking at least two rules. You are managing the investment yourself, which is prohibited, and you are writing checks to pay for services to that account asset. Another no-no.
Prohibited transactions also include...
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It’s not too early to start your tax planning, or better yet, tax savings strategies, as Uncle Sam will come collecting soon.
Hi, I'm Kathy Fettke and this is REAL ESTATE NEWS for investors, the source for investor news that will help you make the right decisions, at the right times.
Uncle Sam will be imposing higher penalties on individuals who do not have health insurance. That penalty could take a two percent bite out of your income over the 10-thousand dollar threshold or about $700 per adult in one household.
There are also new paperwork rules for employers, related to the Affordable Care Act. Previous optional 1085 forms will now be mandatory.
On the plus side of tax reporting, individuals will have three extra days to file their taxes. This year's deadline is April 18th due to the Emancipation Day holiday observed in Washington, D.C. on Friday, April 15th. Tax filers in Maine and Massachusetts get one additional day due to the Patriot's Day holiday on April 18th.
There are also new filing and tax extensions deadlines for businesses. Partnerships and S Corporations must now file by the 15th day of the third month after the end of their tax year. That's March 15th for businesses using a calendar year. That's a month earlier than last year. For C Corporations, the due date is April 15th. A new six-month extension is also available in both those cases.
The BEST way to get tax deductions still exist. Here are 4 ways to dramatically reduce what you owe Uncle Sam through rental property:
Read the full article here:
The post #005 – New and Old Tax Laws That Can Save You Money appeared first on Real Wealth Network.
Fears of bubbling real estate markets are rising, with 3 of the top at-risk markets in California. Is it time to buy? Or cash out?
I’m Kathy Fettke and welcome to Real Estate News for Investors.
In an end-of-the-year survey by Zillow, San Francisco tops the list for at-risk bubble conditions. A hundred experts participated in the survey, and a third of them said San Francisco is already in a bubble. Another 20 percent are predicting that market will peak sometime this year.
Los Angeles and San Diego are in 2nd and 3rd place as having the highest risk of officially being in a real estate bubble. Other frothy cities on the list include New York, Houston, Seattle, Miami and Dallas.
Zillow's Chief Economist says there's still a debate on whether these represent true bubbles. She says that one big difference between market conditions in 2007 and current conditions, are tighter lending requirements. That means buyers are less likely to default on their loans.
The survey covered a total of 20 markets and the overall consensus is that "most" of the markets are not bubbling yet, but if you own California real estate in one of the three hottest markets, it's something to consider.
Your property could be pricing at the top of the market right now. And if that's the case, you may want to consider selling while at the peak of the market, and exchanging that investment for property in non-bubble markets.
You’ve heard the term, buy low sell high. Times like this allow investors to sell high and buy low.
Do the bubble markets appear to be poised to pop, and if so, when?
READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE:
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Is the 1031 exchange an unfair loophole or a stimulus that encourages more tax revenue?
That’s the question policy makers are debating as part of the Presidents 2016 Budget.
The 1031 Exchange has been part of the tax code for almost a hundred years. It allows an investor to exchange one property for another property of similar value without paying capital gains - as long as the replacement property is identified within 45 days of the sale, and then closed within 180 days.
The administration is proposing ...
GET THE FULL STORY and information on how to do a 1031 exchange at
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U.S. Home prices rose 5.8% in November, according to the S&P Case Shiller Index. That was the headline for CNBC this week. And I’m about to tell you why this probably doesn’t matter at all to you as a real estate investor.
Hi, I'm Kathy Fettke and welcome to the 2nd episode of Real Estate News for Investors.
Housing made headline news again this week, as it does at the end of every month when the widely reported S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index is released.
This week, the Wall Street Journal’s headline said, “U.S. Home Price Growth Picks Up in November” and Marketwatch’s headline said, “Home prices accelerate at fastest pace in 16 months.”
The Marketwatch article went on to say:
"U.S. home-price gains picked up again in November, with several metro areas notching double-digit annual percentage increases. The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index rose 0.1% in the three months ending in November, for a 5.8% yearly increase. That was up from a 5.5% yearly gain in the period ending in October, and marked the strongest reading since July 2014.”
Now let me tell you why this simply doesn’t matter and why you shouldn’t care or be affected by Case Shiller’s report, even though this Index has become a widely reported and analyzed measurement of the housing market for nearly thirty years. In fact, few other statistics are more closely watched than the Case-Shiller by those in the housing industry and Wall Street.
First, why do you care that the AVERAGE price gain of 20 U.S. markets over one year was 5.8%? That’s as helpful as planning a ski trip in Colorado and looking up the average weather of 20 U.S. cities to figure out what to pack.
Every market is different. A sale in Denver has no bearing on a sale in Chicago. There is no such thing as a national real estate market, so giving national averages is of no value at all to real estate investors.
Real estate is local.
So you might argue that the Case Shiller index does go local. It includes data from the 20 cities it follows.
This week it reported that 3 U.S cities experienced double digit gains in November. Portland was the winner with 11.1% growth, San Francisco saw 11% growth and Denver 10.9% year over year.
Metros with the slowest price appreciation according to Case Shiller were Chicago, Cleveland, and Washington at just around 2%.
Here are more problems with the data.
Even if we honed in on one city like Portland, we still couldn’t get an accurate picture of property values if we averaged out all the sales. What if there were more sales in a high end neighborhood than a high crime area, or vice versa? An average price of two neighborhoods does not help you understand real values in the specific area you wish to purchase.
Also, I don’t know if you heard me, but I said these were sales from November. It’s almost February. Why do I care what happened in November? The Case Shiller reports on closings that happened 60 days ago.
Would you invest in a particular stock by looking at the numbers from nearly 3 months ago? You might be able to analyze the change in home prices during that time, but you’ll have to wait 2 more months to get today’s data. This does not help you if you’re trying to buy or sell real estate today.
Here are 10 reasons why the Case Shiller Index is of no help to you, as a real estate investor...
READ MORE AT www.NewsForInvestors.com
Please note, I have a great amount of respect for Dr. Shiller and do not wish to criticize his life's work. I’m sure the data could be used for analysis of certain trends - just not for today's buyers and sellers.
I actually had the opportunity to debate him on Fox news. You can see that interview on Real Wealth Network’s website: www.NewsForInvestors.com under the "About Us" tab.
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Don’t get caught off guard by market crashes that can take all your money down with them. And don't miss out on emerging markets that can build tremendous wealth practically overnight.
I’m Kathy Fettke, and welcome to the first episode of Real Estate News for Investors - the premiere source for the most relevant real estate stories, issues, and events that give savvy real estate investors the edge.
Unfortunately, people seem to get the wrong news right when they need it most. For example, back in 2006, right at the peak of the last market cycle - a year before it all came crashing down, the prevailing message from the media was BUY. Real estate is hot and just won’t stop.
But boy did it stop. Just a couple of years later, the U.S. suffered the largest drop in home prices since the Great Recession and the reverberations of that were felt globally.
Here are just some examples of big media sending the wrong messages.
In June of 2005, the cover of Time Magazine said, "Home Sweet Home, why we’re going gaga over real estate." It should have said, “Watch out for a Major Housing Correction Ahead.”
In September of 2010, the same magazine’s cover said, "Rethinking Homeownership: Why owning a home may no longer make economic sense." It should have said, “Opportunity of a Lifetime. Greatest Transfer of Wealth. Cash Flow and Appreciation Ahead!"
Maybe the general media can’t expect to be experts in coming market cycles. But what about the top authorities in the real estate world. What were they saying?
Unfortunately, they also got caught up in the frenzy.
David Lereah, the chief economist of NAR, published a book called, Why the Housing Boom Will Not Bust and How you Can Profit. This was published in Feb 2006.
Unfortunately, many people made poor decisions based on false or inaccurate information.
But that is all about to change, here on Real Estate News for Investors where you can stay up-to-date on market trends, best housing markets, investment in single-family rentals or multi-unit rentals, investment capital, turn-key housing standards, new laws, regulations, and economic events that affect real estate, the revered 1031 exchange and self-directed IRAs.
Find out where rents and property values are rising or falling, markets with job losses vs. job growth, areas that are overbuilt or over-supplied versus property in high demand, and how to avoid real estate scams.
We'll bring you the latest reports from organizations like the National Association of Realtors, Realty Trac, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Zillow, Trulia and Redfin. And we'll help you interpret their often biased data.
You can substantially grow and protect your wealth by staying on the forefront of economic data analysis, expert opinions, innovative investing strategies and profitable investment opportunities.
On this podcast, I'll share all the top stories and trade secrets experienced and successful investors are using - so you can stay ahead of the curve and make fully informed real estate decisions.
And I promise to give you my very uncensored and totally biased opinion. And that bias is that I don’t trust regular media, I don’t trust government propaganda, I don’t trust my friend’s advice at cocktail parties or my church families' recommended investments. I trust common sense mixed with some investigative reporting, which is something I did for years in San Francisco when I was younger - at ABC News, CNN, KTVU and KSFO.
Let me tell you a little bit about me, your host of Real Estate News for Investors. I am founder and Co-CEO of Real Wealth Network, a real estate investment group with over 20,000 members and growing rapidly. I’m also the author of Retire Rich with Rentals and host of the Real Wealth Show - one of the very first podcasts on iTunes.
I am a regular guest expert on Fox News, CNBC, CNN, Marketwatch, ABC NEWS,