Author Archive

Working Healthy Now

Posted on September 2, 2014 by

The first wealth is health.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fall is in the air. Before you know it, Halloween will be here. Then Thanksgiving. And Christmas, and New Year’s, and Martin Luther King Day. And Valentine’s Day! Oh, my gosh! it’ll be swimsuit season soon, and I’m not ready!

Sometimes it seems like we live life in the future, doesn’t it? It’s fun to think about that vacation coming up next spring, and it can be daunting to think of all there is to do tomorrow. But rewards in the future require action in the present. Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to our health. It’s all about nutrition and exercise, and it’s all about now.

Real estate does have its physical side – anybody who’s ever slithered through a muddy crawl space knows this. But to a large extent, our profession is pretty sedentary. And as technology allows us to do more and more from our computers and smartphones, it gets easier to sit for longer and longer periods.

My Uncle Fergus has turned sitting into an art form. I’ll bet you know somebody just like him: If you were to turn his computer keyboard upside down and shake it, you’d get enough crumbs to coat three chicken thighs. Uncle Fergus can open a beer, grab a handful of Cheezy Wiggles, and write a notice to vacate without so much as turning his head. I’m pretty sure he hasn’t walked to the end of his driveway in at least six months. He tells me he’s going to start eating right and exercising soon. Yep. Just as soon as he feels like it. Technology has given him the ability to be a true man of leisure. Read More→


This is one of my favorite ways to buy!!! I do several of these a year.

It’s HOT, HOT, HOT out there, and if you’ve been sitting on the sidelines, wondering if real estate investing is for you, now is a great time to dive in! Today, let’s focus on one of my favorite investment techniques: “subject to” mortgages.

Most of you know that when you buy a house, you usually receive a warranty deed, which gives ownership of a piece of property.  If you’re paying all cash for a property, you just exchange the cash for the warranty deed.  Pretty easy most everyone knows that. 

But if you don’t have all the cash, you have to borrow the money.  Most of you know how the typical mortgage loan works: your banker says, “Sure, just sign this promissory note that says you’ll pay it all back.”  In return, you get a security instrument that says if you don’t pay the promissory note, the bank gets the property.  In most states, that security instrument is the mortgage (In Georgia, we use security deeds). That mortgage, when it’s recorded, creates a lien on the property.  In other words, the bank puts everyone on public notice that if the owner sells or transfers the property, the bank has to be paid off first.  Read More→


Calling in the Home Pro

Posted on July 1, 2014 by

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”  ~ Beverly Sills

 Poor Cousin Roy. He sure loves a bargain, and he couldn’t wait to show this one off to me. He just bought a property, he said, that would be perfect for a big family. It’s got a sparkling pool! A gourmet kitchen! Four huge bedrooms, and three updated bathrooms!

I was skeptical, because I’ve seen some of Roy’s “bargains” before. But, what the heck, I had some free time, so I was willing to take a look. Maybe I could be helpful.

Well, it turns out the pool wasn’t exactly sparkling, unless you count the sun’s reflection off the black, oily sludge at the bottom. And the bedrooms were huge only if you’re a gerbil.  The kitchen had all the extras, all right: a battered old garbage disposal sitting on the floor, a vintage double oven in trendy harvest gold, and – well, who really needs a faucet, anyway? And let’s not talk about the bathrooms. Ever. To anyone.

Now, my readers already know that this is the kind of property I love, because I can make a ton of money on it. But it takes careful due diligence to make sure it’s going to be profitable, and I was pretty sure cousin Roy didn’t even know where to begin. Read More→


The soul never thinks without a picture.” ~ Aristotle

It’s summer! It’s time for gadgets! Last month, we talked about some of the smaller extras you might want to get for your new tablet or smartphone – things like screen protectors and styluses and cases. This month, I’m going to talk about some bigger investments you might want to make in your business’s “infrastructure”: a scanner, back-up capacity, and a keyboard. I’ll also mention a couple frivolous items I just can’t resist mentioning.

First, let’s talk about scanners. Trust me, you want one. Why? Because it’s an essential tool for getting, and staying, organized – especially if you’re one of those people who writes stuff on whatever little piece of paper is close at hand. I used to be like that, and I could never find anything. Now, I scan that piece of paper, or receipt, or business card, or contract, and I save it in an electronic folder. I’ve organized those folders like an old-fashioned filing system, so I can find that little piece of information right away. This allows me to have as little paper in my office as possible. More importantly, the fact that I can find information fast gives me credibility and fosters trust.

Buying a scanner is easier than you think. In fact, there’s a good chance you already have one, because a lot of printers have scan functions, too. Your printer probably lives in your office, and this is very handy . . . when you’re in your office. It won’t do much good if you’re out and about and you want to email a signed contract to your lawyer. That’s why I also have a portable scanner that I keep in my car for just such occasions. By the way, make sure at least one of your printer-scanners can handle more than one page at a time. Mine can scan 24 pages a minute, and I can’t tell you how much time that thing has saved me. Read More→


Congratulations. You’ve got a new tablet computer! Whether it’s an iPad or Windows or Android – and I’m an iPad man, myself – buying a new tablet is a lot like having a baby: You’re going to want to buy some stuff to go with it. And boy, is there a lot of stuff to choose from! But it’s easy to get overwhelmed, both by the variety and by the potential cost. Where is your money best spent? Today I’ll talk about some basic extras you’re going to need.

You probably bought your new device at an electronics megastore, or perhaps online. You can get a lot of accessories from the same place. Many of them will be cheaper on eBay, but you’re going to want to play with your new tablet right away, and it needs some immediate protection. That’s reason enough to go ahead and buy a couple items right then and there, even if it means paying more.

First, you’ll want a screen protector, because you’ll be messing with that screen a lot, and it’s going to get scratched. Don’t choke at the price. It may well be military grade. Okay, so you’re not in the military, but what the heck, it couldn’t hurt. Be careful putting this thing on. It takes a steady hand and some patience to get the bubbles out. Read More→


Hungry? There’s an App for That!

Posted on April 4, 2014 by

“Never order food in excess of your body weight.” ~ Erma Bombeck

Gosh, I’m hungry. Hey, I’m all for working hard, but there’s a limit. Ever hear of an acronym called “H.A.L.T.”? Don’t get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Well, I’m hungry! So this month, I’m taking a little dinner break.

Picture this: You’re knee-deep in grout and dust from working on a bathroom rehab. You’ve been at it all day, and now you’re rushing to pick up your Aunt Mavis at the airport. The only thing she’s had to eat in eight hours is one of those tiny bags of Real Georgia Peanuts they give you on the plane. And you sure don’t have the time or energy to cook. What to do?

Well, in the old days, you’d pick up Aunt Mavis, drive home through rush-hour traffic, thumb through a thick printed phone book for a pizza place that delivers, call in your order, and a pizza guy would magically appear at your door – in about 45 minutes. By now, it would be several hours since poor Aunt Mavis enjoyed her peanut “lunch,” and she might be too weak to eat.

Thank goodness for 21st century technology! While Aunt Mavis is waiting for her luggage, you whip out your iPhone, log into your favorite restaurant app, and in just a few clicks, you’ve ordered dinner. You pick it up on the way home, serve it immediately, and spend the rest of the evening catching up on Uncle Eddie’s medical conditions. Read More→


“I accidentally forgot to graduate from college.” ~ Anne Lamott

Last week my Aunt Blanche came to dinner and told us all about a class she was taking: Financial Markets, at Yale. Really? THE Yale? Blanche is pretty imaginative, so I thought she was making it up. Sure enough, though, she proved it: She’s got a certificate in Financial Markets from Yale University. I have to admit I was impressed. It had to have taken work and dedication, and, I imagined, lots of money, too.

That got me thinking about how important it is to invest in ourselves, particularly in our own education. So many of us think we don’t have the time or money to spend on ourselves. We feel overwhelmed just facing the details and expenses of daily life. In my experience, though, learning something new gives me new energy and motivation to spend on all the mundane stuff.

Maybe you’d like to invest in yourself, but someone else has told you it’s just silly. That sounds like a naysayer to me, so let’s talk about naysayers for a minute. You know who they are: the folks who tell you it’s dumb to spend 15 weeks on a college course. The ones who say you’re too old, you’re too busy, you’re not smart enough. There’s a naysayer in every family. And too often, the worst naysayer of all is YOU. Read More→


Every once in a while, I like to take a close look at my business to make sure I’m still reaching my full income and personal potential. Hopefully, you do the same from time to time, because it takes diligence to maintain success for the long haul.

Students of mine know that if something isn’t working well, it means one of three things: their business is underfunded, underexposed, or undermanaged. This basic principle hasn’t changed since I started investing in real estate in 1997.

But how you meet that third requirement – adequate management – has changed a lot, because one of the keys to good management is the productive use of available technology. And boy, has technology changed since 1997!

Do you remember when a car phone was cutting edge, but it was a huge, expensive, ugly block of a thing with a foot-long antenna. There was no texting, and that phone sure didn’t take pictures, or save documents, or keep track of my appointments, or give me directions, or, well, do anything except make a phone call. And even though I was pretty tech-savvy, I was still very dependent on low-tech solutions like filing cabinets and calculators and old-fashioned film cameras. Read More→


Wait – My Phone Will Do What???

Posted on December 30, 2013 by

I have a thing for tools.” ~ Tim Allen 

So, here it is: January. You’ve gotten most of the pine needles and tinsel out of the carpet so the dog won’t eat it. Aunt Flora and Uncle Ruben have gone back to Miami. Your kids are back in school. And you? You’ve had a minute or two to breathe and enjoy the satisfaction of a holiday season well spent. Time is precious, isn’t it?

But now, it’s time to get moving again. The warmth of the holidays has become the chill of winter, and with that comes heating bills and college tuition and credit card bills. It’s time to make some serious money.

I realize it’s not easy to get in gear again after the New Year. But if you’re like me, you can’t afford to sit on your laurels for too long. Lost opportunities are very expensive.

That doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t have a little fun while you’re at it. So go get that new smartphone Santa brought you, and let’s get cracking. You know you want to!

There was a time when owning a smartphone was a luxury. Not anymore! It’s probably the most useful single gadget you own. I know people who take a lot of pride in having a very basic cellphone. That’s a valid choice, of course, but now I wonder how I ever got along without this amazing device. Read More→


Busy Season? Don’t Lose Your Mynd!

Posted on November 26, 2013 by

“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” ~ Henry Thoreau

I love the holidays! But they can be pretty tough to navigate, what with parties, church and synagogue events, school happenings, gift shopping, cooking, work, and everything else I’ve got to manage. Thank goodness for my iPad, because otherwise, I would forget about Grandpa Bill’s annual Christmas Luau. And that party is a hoot!

We’ve talked about applications for getting organized before. Well, I’ve found a new one I think you’ll like: “Mynd” calls itself the “calendar with a brain.” That might be taking it a little far, but it’s pretty darned smart.

The best applications can integrate with other apps to make your life easier. What do I mean by that? Well, let’s say you’ve got an appointment with your lawyer at 3:00. When you made the appointment, you put it into your smartphone’s calendar. (You did do that, didn’t you?) On appointment day, your calendar sends you a reminder, and you’re ready to get in the car and go – but you don’t remember where her office is. If your apps aren’t integrated, you’ll have to exit your calendar, go into contacts, and find your lawyer’s address and jot it down. Then you’ll have to exit contacts, get into your GPS application and enter the address. What a pain in the neck! Don’t you wish your calendar could just talk to your contacts list and fetch the address for you? Well, that’s exactly the kind of convenience I’m talking about. Read More→


Building a Better Blog

Posted on October 30, 2013 by

“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.” ~ Steven Wright

Last month, if you’ll remember, I talked about starting a blog. I began with a reality check, which I’ll repeat here: Blogging can be a great marketing tool, but it takes a lot of work to keep one up. And don’t expect riches!

I gave you four other tips as well: make sure you have something to say, know your goals, identify your audience, and read other blogs. Those tips are just as important when you sit down to write individual posts, too.

Remember my second cousin Flora, the cat lady? I told you about her last month. She has a blog called “Cats.” I’m afraid it’s not very good. The background is hot pink, the text is yellow, and there’s a hamster dancing around in the corner. As soon as you enter the site, you hear the song for the Chicken Dance. I’m pretty sure she has posted every single picture she’s ever taken of her 34 cats, including the pictures that are blurry and underexposed. Plus, she adds lots of kitty pictures off the web. Oh, and a recipe for Flora’s Skinny Butterscotch Potatoes. And that was just yesterday.

Thank goodness she only posts about three times a year! Read More→


To Blog or Not to Blog?

Posted on October 5, 2013 by

“I blog because I have something to say.” ~ Eddie Huang

Do you have a blog? Have you ever thought about starting one? For a while there, you could be shunned if you didn’t have a blog. Every Tom, Dick, and Alice had a blog. Heck, even my second cousin Flora, the cat lady, had a blog. All God’s children had a blog! Thankfully, the hype has subsided. But the potential benefits of blogs – and pitfalls – are still there.

I’ve done some blogging myself, with mixed success, and in doing so, I’ve developed some ideas about what works and what doesn’t. Since I’ve been reexamining the idea of blogging as an investor, I thought I’d share my thoughts with you here.  

As you know, I like to start at the beginning, and I’ll bet at least one of my readers doesn’t really know what a blog is. A blog is simply an online journal or diary. That’s pretty much it. Beyond that, each blogger decides what his or her blog is going to look like.

But first you’ve got to decide if blogging is for you. Read More→