Traditional Financing Should Apply to Commercial Real Estate

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Q: I would like to invest in land. While residential land is more affordable, I would rather invest in buildable mixed-use land in commercial or industrial zones. How is this type of investing generally financed? L.Y., Wenatchee, Wash.

A: Although real estate represents a major investment asset for most Americans, John Erb, a certified financial planner in Alexandria, Va., says that typically it is their personal residence that's the cornerstone of any such wealth.

Land investments are usually thought of as speculative and are not suitable for small-pocketed investors, says Mr. Erb.

Nevertheless, to answer your question directly, land speculators or real estate developers usually take out huge loans from banks to finance the purchase of land tracts for commercial and industrial purposes. So you'll need to talk to your financial institution to get the ball rolling.

Q: Do the traditional Series EE Savings Bonds return more than the inflation-protected Series I Savings Bonds? Is it true that the EE bonds only double in value if held a full 20 years? J.H., via e- mail

A: While the past is not always prologue to the future, savings bond expert Tom Adams says that if you had bought both a Series EE and a Series I bond every month since I bonds were introduced in September 1998, in every case the I bond would be worth more at this moment. …