Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Over the years since I took down my website InvestingInLand.com I have received a steady stream of emails which are best described as "fan letters." People who were curious about the website and whether it would ever return. Many of the emails were wonderful, telling stories about how the articles on the website saved them from buying a get-rich-quick real estate course or how a lesson from my book, Investing in Land, made them some money and changed their life.
A few weeks ago I received a self described "fan letter" from William who lives near Baltimore, Maryland. What he said really touched me, perhaps in not the way he intended, but nevertheless in a significant way at the perfect time and place. This email was literally the straw that broke this camel's reluctant back.
I am pleased to announce the Investing in Land website will be returning in the Spring of 2016. Bigger, better, faster, stronger, and higher. All of the same as before just more. The original website was known for being the ugliest one on the Internet. The new site hopefully will earn design awards.
Running a website is not as simple as it appears. It isn't as easy as paying someone to build a site and sitting back as it works 24/7. It's really a full time job and right now I'm ready for the challenge. Most importantly, I feel the land and real estate markets are ready for my particular kind of message.
I took down my site in 2007 when I saw the real estate bubble bursting and desperate people were flocking to any vehicle, and I mean ANY one, which could keep them afloat in the market. Highly leveraged land transactions were once such lifeline and a poor one at that. I was not going to allow my site or my book to be a party to such hopelessness and despair.
Eight years later, the times have changed and we have all changed with the times. Some lessons were learned, others not, but we'll sort out the differences together.
I'm shooting for a release date of the new Investing in Land website and book sometime in the Spring of 2016. I'll post more information when I can.
Friday, November 6, 2015
Far too many real estate books are just plain boring. Perhaps it is necessary sometimes given the nature of the subject matter---but not always. Most times boring books are explained away by the simple fact they were written by boring authors.
FOR SALE AMERICAN PARADISE by author Willie Drye is about as far away from dull and sleep inducing as any book could possibly be.
This is the amazing story of real estate investment and speculation in Florida during the 1920s. From the boom to the inevitable bust. It reads like a Who's Who of America during the Roaring Twenties as everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, flocked to the Sunshine State to make some money. The list includes The Marx Brothers, Al Capone, Thomas Edison, and even political firebrand William Jennings Bryan. And, of course, there were the millions of little people, the average citizens all over the country who believed the sky knew no limits and everyone could cash in on this new glorious frontier.
I could not put this book down. The author's research is exhaustive and this work does not read like a novel. Instead, the facts and details simply overwhelm the reader into thinking "How could anyone ever have thought any of this was really true?" A truly unique writing style. The author's extensive notes on sources run from pages 236 to 281, in other words, 45 pages of footnotes. Put another way, nearly 20% of this entire book is detailed research for the other 80%.
This book is fun, exciting, sad, thought provoking, unique, and most of all from a real estate perspective, educational. You see how real estate bubbles are born and die. The spirit of innovation which gives rise to them, the greed which ultimately seizes control and spins them into chaos, and the financial carnage and destruction which is left in their wake.
A MUST READ real estate book. Just awesome. As a real estate writer I applaud Mr. Drye for his extensive research and how well he used it all.
Friday, October 30, 2015
I wrote this post on the Pep Boys automotive chain in 2012. I called it a common sense real estate value play on all their store locations. When I wrote my article Pep Boys (ticker symbol PBY) was trading for $8.29 per share.
Bridgestone has agreed to buy Pep Boys for $15 per share.
If you followed my idea you earned a 68.72% return in about three years or 22.9% per year. Not a bad return for a token price which really amounted to a perpetual call on the company's stock. In other words, buying a LEAP call on PBY with no expiration date. Quite a safe and tidy investment.
Thanks Manny, Moe and Jack.
Monday, October 26, 2015
I am seeking the etymology of the term "real estate guru."
In other words, who invented the term? When was it first used? It's a common phrase and I have found some early uses dating back to the 1950s but I do not know the origin of the term. I need a more precise history for a project.
Readers of this blog have been quite helpful supplying me with information. I am hoping my readers come through one more time.
Any information on this topic would be much appreciated.
Please email me at email@example.com.
P.S. The photo above is of William Safire, the master of etymology.
Sunday, October 4, 2015
The latest and most egregious example of homeowners association ("HOA") abuse. (On a daily basis I could pick many.)
A homeowner cannot fly an American flag on her own home even when her neighbors say is it fine. When an overflow meeting is called by angry residents to address the flag rule, the HOA cancels it at the last minute. The homeowner is still looking at $75 fine for the HOA violation and has vowed not to take down Old Glory.
The lesson here?
NEVER NEVER EVER buy an investment property with a HOA.
You lose virtually all control over your investment. Period.
Most HOAs are not well run, in fact, it is amateur hour at the vast majority of them. Even when the HOA members are well intentioned (a big if) things never happen like you planned. Costs rise faster than anticipated due to a lack of competitive contract bidding and even cronyism. Wacky HOA members are elected who believe they are in the incarnation of Stalin. Maintenance is deferred by homeowners on the HOA who are selling their properties soon so future buyers can pick up their repair costs. The list goes on and on and on and on....
Sad when the Stars and Stripes are controversial anywhere. Dumb HOA.