Investor's Mantra: Business Is Business

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 20, 2006 | Go to article overview

Investor's Mantra: Business Is Business


Byline: M. Anthony Carr, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Several friends have come up to me in the last few weeks and asked, "Is this a good time to sell my house?" or "Is this a good time to buy a house?"

Let me preface my answer with this: If nobody panics, we'll all get out of this alive.

Many readers accuse me of being too optimistic on the real estate market. What they see as optimism is actually an attitude steeped in the belief that you can make money in real estate in any market. You just have to know how to operate when the market's moving up, leveling off or cooling down.

When prices are up, sell. When prices are leveling or dropping, buy - or sell.

When rents are moving up, don't play Mr. Charity. Raise your rents. When you enter the real estate field as a wealth-building business investment, that's exactly how you have to treat it - like a business.

When the market shifts, that's OK - if you're looking at the market as a way of making money and building wealth.

Thus, when I read some recent reports from federal agencies that appreciation had slowed, I didn't panic with many of the market prognosticators. I just shifted my business plan. Real estate investors and property owners can make money in any market. You just have to be wise and be flexible.

Consumers definitely are confused as to whether they should buy a piece of property when many numbers are pointing at a housing market that is slipping in prices.

Today's tip is to approach it from an unemotional business perspective.

Watch these segments of the economy in your local area to determine if you should buy in your market.

* The local economy. Are jobs growing? Are businesses opening? Are current businesses investing in themselves? What are the economists saying in your area? Research this data by a simple Internet search of " 'your city' economic report."

Through that search, the astute investor will find out where economists are predicting growth in suburban business centers and where the jobs are coming and going.

Forget what you're hearing nationally and look for the growth on the local level where you want to buy a house. Just like politics, real estate is local.

* The local real estate market. Are prices booming, leveling or slipping? This has to be researched on various levels. Start on the state level, drill down to your county and then get a granular look at the ZIP code and community level.

These numbers can be found easily through your local Realtor association. For a list from across the country, start at www.Realtor.com and click the links to local real estate associations at the bottom of the page. Most local associations and state groups keep a public area on their Web pages with statistics on the number of homes sold, sales prices and year-to-year appreciation. …

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