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Jewish World Review Sept. 26, 2001 / 9 Tishrei, 5762

Bruce Williams

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Consumer Reports


Friend has good deal


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- DEAR BRUCE: We are retired and live in the Midwest. My friend has less than $100,000 in the bank. She feels she comes out ahead financially to buy cheap homes with cash and then rent them out. She considers the rent interest on her money and thinks that she comes way out ahead of what the bank pays. I say there are too many problems and that she's better off to invest the money in mutual funds and not have the hassles. -- K.D., via e-mail

DEAR K.D.: If she's buying these homes for very little money, getting a decent amount of rental and has no problem with the details involved, she certainly is going to receive a much higher return than she will from a bank. She very well may outperform mutual funds as well. This is just a question of different strokes for different folks. If she's happy with it, and it ain't broke, why fix it?

DEAR BRUCE: My wife and I own our own home and have $120,000 in equity with no real debt other than our student loans. I am 41 and she is 38. We have a combined income of $130,000 and are maxing out our pension plans. Now, we are considering investing in rental property. You have said that single-family homes are rarely a good investment from a rental perspective. What type of property would be suitable for our situation? -- N.L., via e-mail

DEAR N.L.: You are correct that I feel single-family homes are seldom good investments. They seem to command prices that cannot be justified as a rental. If you are prepared to give the rental business a try (and that's what it is, a business), consider a two- or three-family home. More often than not, multiple family homes give a better return. Like every other investment, these should be scrutinized carefully. Not every home may be worth investing in. The return should gross somewhere around 1.2 percent to 1.3 percent per month of the value. You also have to account for taxes, insurance, maintenance and other expenses. When you are doing your calculations, allow for unpaid rent and vacancies. This is something that the amateur often forgets. Understand that you are buying a part-time job, and as long as you are comfortable with that, I have no problem with investing in multi-family real estate.

DEAR BRUCE: We owe a combination of $126,000 on our $170,000 home. Half of it is at 7 percent and the remaining half 8-1/4 percent variable. Should we remortgage? I am 55. -- T.M., via e-mail

DEAR T.M.: If you plan on staying in the house for a decent length of time, remortgaging is the way to go. It's unlikely that you are going to see mortgage rates as low as the current market. Since you are paying 8-1/4 percent on half of the loan, I would consider refinancing. However understand that there will be costs involved, such as placement points, etc. You can sit down with paper and pencil and quickly determine exactly how long it will take for you to recover the costs involved. Given the rather substantial savings, it shouldn't take a terribly long time.



Send your questions to JWR contributor Bruce Williams by clicking here. (Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.) Interested in buying or selling a house? Let Bruce Williams' "House Smart" be your guide. (Sales of the book help fund JWR).

Up

09/24/01: Consider the franchise option
09/17/01: Single vs. multi-family rental
09/14/01: Buy house or invest?; Universal insurance v. a mutual fund?
09/12/01: Safe investment, modest return
09/10/01: CD yields little return
09/07/01: Sending funds overseas
09/06/01: Contracts v. mortgages; What is a nice nest egg?
09/04/01: Senior likes entering contests
08/31/01: Rental property return
08/23/01: House too large for widow
08/22/01: Second thoughts about gift; Why should I have to pay for a sewer line that I neither want nor can afford?
08/20/01: Consider used cars over new; outsource billing; careless mechanics
08/16/01: Investing an inheritance
08/14/01: Government grant availability
08/13/01: Roth IRAs for education
08/08/01: Refinancing small mortgages
08/06/01: Bi-weekly mortgage payments?
08/02/01: Refinancing dilemma
07/31/01: Annuity advice; living trusts
07/30/01: Helping kids save money
07/27/01: Down payment or retirement?
07/24/01: Law suit "buy-out"; lease or buy vehicle?
07/19/01: 401(k) concern at age 70
07/18/01: Spouse responsible for debt
07/16/01: Refinancing to get investment money
07/12/01: Renting in retirement communities
07/10/01: Refinancing mobile home advice; why single house rentals are generally a poor investment; how determine if income is decent in condo
07/06/01: Property burned on day insurance issued; paralegals and wills
07/03/01: Converting stamps to cash
06/29/01: Puppy swindle; buying v. renting; too goods
06/27/01: Keeping an older car; dad's dead and he left everything to mom; brokers and "captive agents"
06/25/01: What's a reverse mortgage?
06/22/01: Bonds for college a bad bet; debt consolidation loans
06/20/01: Guidelines for refinancing your home
06/18/01: Keep or sell rental property?; 27-year loans; turning 401(k) into a Roth IRA
06/15/01: Investor worries about stock loss
06/11/01: Second marriage wills
06/07/01: Title insurance on new home; loan against primary residence; shares and class action lawsuits
06/05/01: Must we have a real estate lawyer? Fences make .... trouble
06/04/01: Ring no longer needed; "cherry pickers"
06/01/01: Dad responsible for son's damage
05/31/01: Avoid will kits
05/30/01: Where there's a will ...
05/25/01: Best way to pay for remodeling
05/23/01: Medicaid took my mother's home
05/21/01: Trouble with undeclared tips; Cheaper to rent than own?!
05/18/01: Construction and cash; qualifications for rates for first-time home buyers
05/16/01: Salesman or financial adviser? What is a title policy and how does it work?
05/11/01: Gift money for children
05/10/01: Advice for seniors
05/08/01: Investing 101
05/07/01: Should I rent my house out?
05/03/01: Retired citizen wants to pay off mortgage; boyfriend/girlfriend accounts
05/01/01: Roth Educational Account explained; recouping losses
04/25/01: Parent wants to invest
04/24/01: Mortgage lengths; my granny has hefty credit card debt
04/23/01: What is PMI and how can I get rid of it?; Credit card account services
04/19/01: When to incorporate; you may be breaking up my marriage
04/18/01: I'm an heir to an additional monthly income , but it's becoming a tax burden
04/17/01: False promises to clear bad credit
04/13/01: Back-to-back ticketing dilemma
04/12/01: Using home equity to buy a car
04/10/01: Sister wants Mom's house
04/05/01: Should I pay or stay?
04/04/01: How should we invest $40,000?
04/03/01: Size
03/30/01: I want to be a real estate agent; surviving siblings stocks
03/27/01: Seeking financial literacy
03/20/01: Pay off the credit card?
03/15/01: Just wait 'til you sell...
03/13/01: They're trying to give me a better car; I'm not filing
03/12/01: Timeshares not worth your time
03/09/01: Your tax protection is maxed-out; ealry birds and audits
03/08/01: How old is too old for a Roth?; laws on landlords investing your money
03/07/01: New job, old 401(k); buy v. leasing car
03/05/01: Basement swimming, anyone?
02/27/01: Don't take mommy's money!; livid at landscaper
02/26/01: Teach your daughter to be responsible
02/22/01: Go get a(nother) job; Change a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA?
02/21/01: Stocks buy a 'piece of America'; everyone needs at least $1 million worth of liability insurance
02/20/01: No hassles bring low return; 'repo' houses
02/15/01: Term insurance on what terms?
02/13/01: Must I charge tax? Can dotted property line stop us from building on our land?
02/12/01: Picking the 'best' lawyer
02/08/01: Who has the best mortgage rates?
02/05/01: No life insurance to cover a loan; notch babies and social security; avoiding paying a lot of tax on severance pay
02/02/01: Life insurance for regular people?
01/31/01: Debt free
01/29/01: A house divided; I won the jackpot --- but the IRS took the winnings
01/24/01: Sons as landlords
01/23/01: Pitfalls of buying land; cleaning up a financial mess
01/22/01: Aiming for partnership; Have investments in the child's name?
01/19/01: Roths and young people
01/17/01: Home-sellers must disclose; IRS can still get you --- even after a divorce
01/15/01: Advice on buying a business
01/11/01: Credit cards and 401Ks
01/09/01: Power of Attorney questioned
01/08/01: An 8-year-old unpaid bill
01/04/01: Accidents where the victim is responsible; health club heartache; laptop lunacy
01/03/01: Towing a new car; Must reveal my insurer's name?
12/28/00: Paying off a mortgage; Borrow yourself to prosperity?
12/26/00: My dad won't make a will
12/22/00: Most work-at-home offers cater to fools; trust deed investments
12/20/00: Your son needs tough love
12/18/00: Time to move on
12/14/00: Should we move retirement account?
12/13/00: U.S. notes can be the answer
12/08/00: Series EE, I, EE, I, Oh!
12/07/00: Paying mortgage twice a month instead of once
12/05/00: IRA vs. 401(k) investing; "gofer" gripes
12/01/00: Those credit card "checks"; non-compete agreements
11/30/00: Dumped by insurers when I did nothing wrong
11/27/00: Collision insurance is a waste?
11/23/00: Rent our house or sell it?
11/21/00: Fixed or adjustable rate?
11/20/00: Debt consolidation requires discipline
11/16/00: Ten-year fixed-rate mortgages
11/15/00: Higher interest means higher risk
11/10/00: Maybe a mobile home
11/09/00: At 21, save for today and tomorrow
11/08/00: Can I shelter my severance pay?
11/06/00: I don't wanna save for retirement!
11/03/00: Getting your money back is enough
10/31/00: Employment ads that make you pay
10/27/00: Reader takes on Bruce
10/26/00: Tell your kids to 'get real'
10/25/00: Don't pay 'the rascals'
10/23/00: Mickey Mouse tax steps
10/18/00: Economizing is not always wise
10/17/00: Young investors should start a Roth IRA
10/13/00: Maybe your prices are too low
10/12/00: Dealing with underground home oil tanks
10/11/00: Go with simple interest!
10/05/00: When property is worth more than the home
10/04/00: Put part of windfall in a Roth
10/03/00: Not paying taxes on interest from house sale
09/28/00: Protection by Medicaid and Medicare
09/27/00: Refinancing home without alerting crooks
09/26/00: Base investments on trust
09/25/00: Do we really need a will?
09/21/00: She took off with the car
09/20/00: Diversify your financial advisers?
09/18/00: How to inherit a house
09/15/00: The tax scoop on student loans
09/14/00: House buying only for the young?
09/13/00: No reason to give credit
09/11/00: Must I pay for my gifted child's college tuition?
09/08/00: We got bitten on purchase of dog
09/06/00: Pools can soak you
08/28/00: When the insurance company has an 'out'
08/25/00: When to buy a home
08/24/00: More 'interest' to live on
08/22/00: Paying for private school
08/18/00: Don't make huge down payments
08/16/00: IRAs for people with pensions
08/15/00: She doesn't deserve a break
08/11/00: Her shopping will ruin us
Yes, a contract means something
08/10/00: Her shopping will ruin us
08/09/00: A $1,500 car ... for $3,000
08/04/00: Time to take on the airlines
08/02/00: How can I retire at 62?
08/01/00: Cash in your savings bonds
07/28/00: Hold onto a mortgage under 7 percent
07/26/00: I want my partner to buy me out
07/25/00: Negotiate with your neighbor
07/21/00: How can I finally start saving soundly?
07/20/00: Where's my prize?
07/18/00: Getting out of an upside-down loan
07/13/00: Death is no escape
07/12/00: Multiplying dollars
07/10/00: Making sense of retirement investing
07/07/00: 'Bankruptcy does follow us around'
07/06/00: In which state should I file my income tax?
07/03/00: When to diversify assets
06/30/00: I'm buying my dad's house
06/29/00: How social security seniors should invest
06/27/00: Waiting before re-establishing credit
06/21/00: Insuring an older car
06/19/00: Take the money and run!
06/16/00: Utility company incursion
06/15/00: Insurance settlement is no bargain
06/13/00: A straightforward form of bankruptcy
06/08/00: In the computer's clutches
06/07/00: The trouble with tenants
06/05/00: Do I really need title insurance?
06/01/00: The truth about nursing home insurance
05/30/00: Keep mother-daughter loan simple
05/25/00: CDs for security, not investment
05/24/00: Battling with collection agency
05/22/00: Are callable CDs a waste of time?
05/18/00: Building a college fund
05/16/00: Even death brings no relief
05/15/00: House is 'worth' what's offered
05/12/00: Borrow from Mom and Dad?
05/11/00: Your heirs, your choice
05/09/00: Mutual-fund investigations
05/05/00: Credit cards vs. debit cards
05/04/00: Lawyer are good for something
05/03/00: The binding nature of contracts
05/02/00: You know you are in trouble when ...
05/01/00: Can primary residence be rented out?
04/28/00: A full refund after five years?
04/25/00: Get a homeowner's title policy!
04/24/00: Beware of errors in your favor
04/18/00: $10,000 limit on gifts
04/17/00: Invest or repay student loans?
04/13/00: Beware of Internet auctions
04/11/00: Six percent is a pittance
04/10/00: Married couples should share windfall
04/07/00: How not to blow an inheritance
04/06/00: Get genetic screening for Tay-Sachs
04/05/00: Beating the look-back period
04/04/00: Providing for retirement
04/03/00: Readers disagree on time shares
03/30/00: The road back to good credit
03/29/00: Pre-tax dollars in IRA taxed later
03/27/00: Gambling on business ventures
03/22/00: Old cars as hobby, not investment
03/20/00: Tax on foreign gifts?
03/16/00: How to buy government bonds
03/13/00: Buying treasury instruments
03/09/00: Subcontractors must pay S.S.
03/08/00: Real-estate lawyers are essential
03/07/00: Don't expect compensation for ideas
03/06/00: Too rich for a Roth IRA?
03/01/00: Is time-sharing a scam?
02/29/00: Paying for nursing-home care
02/28/00: Rely on a real-estate lawyer
02/23/00: Keeping child's money safe from divorce
02/16/00: Just how important is a 401(k)?
02/14/00: Shaky partnership buying house
02/11/00: Protection by residential zoning
02/09/00: Benefiting from a reverse mortgage
02/07/00: Ensure your insurability
02/04/00: Absurd community zoning laws
02/02/00: Money or securities?
02/01/00: Can we KO a custodian?
01/31/00: Why sell a home you love?
01/26/00: Everyone needs a will
01/25/00: Will splitting stocks affect rollover?
01/24/00: Should early retirees contribute to SEP?
01/21/00: Strategies for paying off debt
01/20/00: Is 15-percent growth achievable?
01/19/00: Selling a second home
01/18/00: Running from a time-share
01/14/00: Don't be a spendthrift!
01/13/00: Who gets the house?
01/11/00: It all depends on size of estate
01/06/00: Check references before hiring an advisor
01/04/00: Savings bonds a bad investment
12/31/99: Out of state ain't that great
12/29/99: Warranty rip-offs
12/27/99: Checking up on investment handlers
12/23/99: Options good only when company's strong
12/20/99: Capital gains tax sometimes best
12/17/99: Don't give up your nest egg
12/15/99: Small-claims court no panacea
12/13/99: Termite company not liable for termites?
12/10/99: Services provided must be paid for
12/06/99: How do we minimize house-sale gain?
12/06/99: Maximize your tax shelter!
12/02/99: My neighbor won't maintain even a modicum of civility
12/01/99: Long-distance rentals a bad idea
11/29/99: Mortgage strategy A-OK
11/18/99: Students can work and learn
11/16/99: Value is what will sell
11/11/99: Y2K: No big deal for real estate
11/08/99: Real life is tough luck
11/03/99: The right time to cash a savings bond
11/01/99: Slow road for savings accounts
10/29/99: What do you want from insurance?
10/27/99: You have a right to see your tax forms!
10/25/99: Why own a house at 65?
10/22/99: Online fine, but CDs?
10/20/99: Love, honor -- and separate credit
10/18/99: Find the value of your stocks
10/15/99: Property lien prevents trade
10/13/99: Clear up debt, only then tie the knot
10/11/99: If it ain't broke...
10/04/99: Should I stick with the company IRA?
10/04/99: Get a financial education!
10/01/99: Insurance: Not much one person can do
09/30/99: Lost tickets are lost cash
09/29/99: Trusting only one financial planner
09/27/99: Adult children should help out
09/24/99: Tips for first-time home buyers
09/21/99: Use the rule of 72s!
09/17/99: Legal strategy can be a pain
09/15/99: Teen drivers drive up insurance
09/13/99: Always use an attorney!
09/10/99: Whose taxes are they, anyway?
09/08/99: How do I roll over my 401(k)?
09/03/99: How can I work out my IRS payments?
09/01/99: When your company can't pay you
08/30/99: Beware of shady viatical investments
08/26/99: Landlords vary on security deposits
08/25/99: Educational IRAs must be spent on education
08/23/99: Finding out the value of old stocks
08/20/99: How to get an FHA refund
08/19/99: 100 percent financing is a scam
08/16/99: Will I have to pay a capital gains tax?
08/16/99: Thinking about PMI
08/13/99: Short-term mutual funds a-OK
08/11/99: It's your job to shop around
08/10/99: Sometimes, roots need to be uprooted
08/09/99: 'Pre-approved' doesn't mean a thing
08/06/99: Only you can determine your investments
08/04/99: Bank IRA the lowest-risk option
08/03/99: Reverse mortgages good for the elderly
08/02/99: Get the survey BEFORE you buy the house!
07/28/99: Get a lawyer -- it's worth it!
07/27/99: If it ain't broke...

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